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Seattle cop didn't violate rules when he shot at suspect who threw burning wood into squad car, review finds

A citizen filed a complaint about the incident that happened in October 2020, but the Office of Police Accountability ruled the officer did not violate any rules.

SEATTLE — The Office of Police Accountability (OPA) says a Seattle police officer followed proper procedures when he fired his gun at a suspect late last year.

On October 15, 2020, Seattle police responded to the area between Dexter Avenue and John Street in South Lake Union for a report of a man walking around with a flaming piece of lumber, later found out to be a 2x2. 

When the officer found the suspect, the suspect ran up to the officer's patrol car and stuck the flaming piece of wood into the driver's side window, injuring the officer and destroying the vehicle. 

The officer fired seven shots at the suspect, who was running away, in just under three seconds, according to OPA. The suspect was not injured by the gunfire. 

According to OPA, a citizen who was not involved in the incident or present at the scene filed a complaint with the agency alleging the officer violated policy when he fired at the "unarmed" suspect in a "dense neighborhood."

The entire incident was caught on body-worn, dashcam, and surveillance video released by the Seattle Police Department, which OPA reviewed during the course of their investigation as well as third-party video capturing the incident.

OPA found that the officer's use of deadly force was reasonable because of the imminent threat of bodily harm due to the suspect brandishing the flaming piece of wood. Furthermore, when the officer fired his weapon there was a brick wall of a building behind the suspect, not a populated area, so OPA determined there was no risk to the general public as a result of the officer firing his weapon. 

In the body-worn video, the officer is seen firing his weapon with only one hand, which the citizen also brought up in their complaint. The OPA review found that the officer was trained and qualified to shoot with one hand, and he was using his other hand to steer the squad car at the time. 

OPA concluded Wednesday that the officer did not violate his training or rules of conduct during the encounter. 

The 37-year-old suspect was eventually arrested by other responding officers. 

The officer involved sustained non-life threatening injuries, police said. 

RELATED: Seattle police release video showing moment suspect threw burning piece of wood into squad car