SEATTLE – The president of the Seattle Police Guild says surveillance video of a police officer kicking a 17-year-old suspect during a narcotics bust doesn't tell the full story.
Rich O'Neill says those who didn't know what happened leading up to the video aren't in a position to judge.
"It's getting kind of old to hear these Monday morning quarterbacks coming in trying to tell officers, from a snipit of video, how to do their job or what they should and shouldn't have done," said O'Neill. "You have to keep this in perspective. This is a person who just beat a police officer. This is a person who didn't know it was a police officer and was probably going to rob them like this roving groups of gangs are doing in our downtown area."
When he watched the videotape with us, O'Neill described the kicking incident as "a trained maneuver, a takedown maneuver, trying to get this fleeing felon in custody."
The tape shows the teen raising his arms, as if to surrender. But the officer kicks him to the ground and then kicks him two more times.
"Officers coming through a door. 'Get down. Get down. Get down on the ground.' And then they do a forward strike with their foot to put someone down. They usually try to hit right in the thigh because it's like a Charley horse and, if you look at the video, that's where he hit him," said O'Neill.
O'Neill says the teen ignored six commands to get down before he entered the store and, even with his hands up, he could have been a threat.
"He most definitely could have been a threat. We've had people who have raised their hands in an effort to get around the officer, to slap at the officer. He's already run once. Why do we think he's just going to comply now?" said O'Neill.
The guild president also criticized police commanders for expressing opinions on the tape before it has been fully reviewed. He says officers are being told on the one hand to clean up an increasingly violent downtown, but they face criticism when they use the very tactics they've been trained to use.