Expert's review: Does SPD tape show excessive force?



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Posted on June 15, 2010 at 5:58 PM

Was the Seattle Police officer justified in punching the teenager?

SEATTLE - A Seattle Police officer is seen on video punching a young woman in the face. We asked a nationally known expert on police techniques to view the tape and weigh in.

Former Bellevue police chief Don Van Blaricom was very critical of Seattle officers’ conduct when they were caught on tape stomping a Latino man a month ago. He’s a nationally renowned expert on police techniques, most notably offering expert testimony against the police officers in the Rodney King beating.

With this most recent tape, he says its obvious the Seattle police officer is in trouble.

“He has two people he's engaged with,” says Van Blaricom as he watches the officer struggling with two females. “They are both good sized people. He has a hostile crowd around him. He's by himself."

But what about that snap decision to punch the 17-year old in the pink shirt.

Van Blaricom says her interference is a serious threat to the officer's safety.

 "I think he decided he had to end that interference right there and that's what he did and it worked," he said.

Van Blaricom says, unlike the tape which surfaced last month, in this case the officer is alone and surrounded by a taunting crowd.

“'I don't see any signs of anger,” says Van Blaricom. “In fact he's very professional calling bystanders sir.  He's not using as much force, quite honestly, as he could have."