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Activists demand accountability from Tacoma police after officer drives through crowd at street race

Community activists are calling for stronger accountability from police in Pierce County after a Tacoma officer drove his patrol vehicle through a crowd downtown.

TACOMA, Wash. — The events of last Saturday night are still sending shockwaves in Tacoma.

In a video that’s been posted across the social media landscape, Tacoma police officer Khanh Phan is seen driving his patrol SUV into a crowd of onlookers during an illegal street racing event held in the downtown area.

Phan has since been placed on paid administrative leave while an independent investigation is conducted, but some in the community feel that’s not enough or even fair.

"He’s getting paid with our tax dollars, so he gets to run us over and we still have to pay him?" argued Siobhan Ayuso, a community organizer and co-founder of the activist group, Sisters in Solidarity.

The video of Saturday’s incident calls into question if the level of force used by Phan in response to some members of the crowd pounding on his patrol vehicle's windows was justified.

"Watching a car drive into a crowd of people is extremely concerning, and it needs to be thoroughly investigated, and it is a use of deadly force, and all the deadly use of force laws and policies apply," said Carmen Best, former Seattle police chief and KING 5's Law Enforcement Analyst. 

RELATED: Tacoma officer who drove police car through crowd at street race has been identified

Meanwhile, activists like Ayuso are frustrated over the lack of alternative tactics used to deal with the situation.

"There’s supposed to be more de-escalation training, and cops being held accountable. And that’s what needs to start happening, police need to be held accountable for their actions," Ayuso said.

Best said the investigation that’s underway could potentially shed some light into Phan’s decisions that led him to plow into a crowd of people that fateful night.

"We trust officers to have that level of discretion about when they need to act versus otherwise. In this situation, that doesn’t appear to be the case, so I think the real question is how did that officer end up in a situation where his car was surrounded, it may have been inadvertent or intentional, those details will be determined through the investigative process," said Best.

RELATED: 'Could've killed me': Injured man condemns Tacoma officer who plowed through crowd at street race