Video shows SPD pepper spraying teacher at MLK rally

Jesse Hagopian says right after giving a speech about Martin Luther King Jr at a rally, police pepper sprayed him. Elisa Hahn reports.

SEATTLE -- A Seattle high school teacher said what would have been one of the proudest days of his life turned into a painful violation from Seattle police.

Garfield High School teacher Jesse Hagopian says right after giving a speech at a Martin Luther King Jr. rally, police pepper sprayed him.

The NAACP just filed the claim at City Hall Wednesday afternoon, against the city of Seattle and Seattle police.

The civil rights group says the incident happened on the holiday a week ago, during a demonstration.

Known to be a popular and outspoken teacher and activist, Hagopian said he had finished giving a speech at a rally and was on the phone with his mother heading to his two-year-old son's birthday party when the pepper spraying happened.

The video provided by the NAACP and uploaded to YouTube is only 15 seconds long, but Hagopian can be seen walking into frame, on the phone, and then gets hit with pepper spray along with others standing nearby.

The NAACP says the 15 seconds is the extent of the video in their possession.

Hagopian says police had been pepper spraying protesters in other areas, but what had happened to him was unprovoked.

Attorney James Bible, with the NAACP, says Hagopian's mother had filed a complaint with the Office of Police Accountability, but because of their lack of faith in the OPA, the NAACP decided to go ahead and file a claim with the city.

The city has 60 days to respond. If it chooses not to, the NAACP will go ahead and file a lawsuit.

A spokesperson for the Seattle City Attorney's Office said it could not comment on a pending claim.

Seattle police has not issued a response as well.


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