SPD’s Latest Incident Of “Excessive” Force Caught On Camera…Again
June 16, 2010 It’s the second full day of punch-gate and there have been a few developments since the tape first aired.
SEATTLE — A 30 year veteran of law enforcement training told KOMO News Tuesday that an officer who punched a teenage girl in the face while struggling to get her and another teen under control in South Seattle was “well within the scope of appropriate responses to the situation.” More…
This is important because most see the punch as a violent reaction but don’t understand it is, in this case, an acceptable tactic by law enforcement.
The NAACP and Urban League held a joint presser:
James Bible, the president of the Seattle NAACP, said he is shocked that interim Seattle Police Chief John Diaz is a finalist for the job of Seattle police chief.“We have someone who is willing to hide the dirty deeds of his department,” Bible said. “He is not prepared to protect the people at the expense of the union.”Bible said Diaz should “step away based on this incident and so many others on his own.””At this stage, that would be the dignified thing to do,” Bible said.“There is no way you can tell me for one moment this officer was trained to behave that way,” said the Rev. Reggie Witherspoon of the Mount Calvary Christian Center.
The presser brought… strong reactions from some in the media and many across the greater Seattle area:
I absolutely love how the racial ambulance chasers immediately hitch their wagon to the central figures in these stories – only to find out that they have attached themselves to little thugs. It happened in the Seattle Bus Tunnel story – and it’s happening again now…I wonder if the NAACP, the Urban League and the various pastors feel any embarrassment when they discover the girls they so adamantly defended are actually a couple of little thugs who bring all their problems on themselves?
The background of the two girls came a bit more into focus:
19-year old Marilyn Ellen Levias and 17-year-old Angel Rosenthal:
Rosenthal was charged in November with second-degree robbery. According to prosecutors, she punched a 15-year-old boy in the face while she and a group of youths were on their way to a rave in South Seattle last Aug. 28. The boy told police that his cellphone and $20 were stolen in the incident. A 14-year-old boy told police that he was punched in the head and his hat was stolen.
Authorities say the case was dismissed when the boys refused to testify.
In April 2008, Rosenthal was charged with third-degree theft after she allegedly stole a minivan in Tukwila, prosecutors said. Kent police said she used a screwdriver to break the ignition and start the vehicle.
The charge was later amended to theft of a motor vehicle. Rosenthal was given a deferred disposition — charges would be dropped if she stayed out of trouble — because it was a first-time offense, said Ian Goodhew, deputy chief of staff for Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg.
Levias was charged in February 2009 with third-degree assault after she allegedly pushed a King County sheriff’s deputy down.
According to charging documents, on Feb. 3, 2009, deputies were called to the Ruth Dykeman Children’s Center, a Burien center for troubled girls, in response to a report that Levias was being abusive toward staff. When Levias was confronted by Deputy Amy Zarelli, she pushed the female deputy, causing her to fall, charging papers said.
Levias was given a deferred disposition because it was a first-time offense, Goodhew said.
SPD referred the tape to the OPA for review and have expressed some “concern” over what happened:
“You obviously have to take into context everything that occurred from the point that the officer did make contact with the individuals until the situation ended. As I said before, we have some concerns about the tactics the officer used and employed at the time. Again, we did feel what occurred did deserve a review by the Office of Professional Accountability,” said Metz.
“I think if the young women involved had just cooperated with the officer, I can’t say what the officer’s actions would have been – whether he intended to cite them or if he intended to just give them a verbal warning – it certainly would not have escalated to where it did. These women do have to bear much of the responsibility in the altercation that occurred,” said Metz.
The Seattle Police Department just can’t catch a break. A few months ago an officer was caught on video physically and verbally assaulting a man in his custody, screaming, “I will beat the fucking Mexican piss out of you homie!”
That incident, which garnered national attention, has fallen by the wayside locally, bogged down in side stories about the tape, the videographer, and q 13 Fox’s decision to keep it off their airwaves.
Now we have yet another video tape, this time taken by a citizen who happened to be present when an apparent jay walking incident got well out of hand.
SPD says the young woman teenager in the video assaulted the officer, or at the least “came at the officer” before she was struck.
King 5 News wasted no time making the video available to its viewers. It clearly shows an officer punching a woman; an act SPD says didn’t “appear” to cause any injury (which I guess is their way of saying it was okay).
According to King 5:
Both girls – one 19 years old, the other 17 years old – were eventually handcuffed and booked on suspicion of obstructing an officer. Police said in addition to the more serious charges, both females were cited for jaywalking.
We often have kneejerk reactions to situations like these. We see the key words in a headline and jump to conclusions. At first glance, one would think a cop just hauled off and clocked some kid in the face.
But that’s not what happened. That 17 year old pushed a police officer. That’s beyond a no-no. Am I excusing his behavior? No. But I’m not prepared to excuse her’s either. She was so far wrong for what she did in that situation, from beginning to end. If you want to smack talk a police officer you better be prepared for whatever he dishes back. If you want to touch a police officer- you best pray you don’t get yourself or any of your friends shot.
What the cop did doesn’t justify what she did. And what on earth would make her think she was justified in her actions? I would be horrified if I saw a video of my child behaving that way towards a cop. It’s reckless, hell, it’s dangerous. But she didn’t care about that- didn’t even pause to consider it.
Sure, we can say that the jay walking offense isn’t that serious, or that Blacks are stopped more than Whites. All of those things may be true. But homegirl and her friends jay walked. They broke the law. I feel like Bill Cosby, about to give the infamous “poundcake” rant. Not only did she break the law once, she broke the law again when she set a single finger on that cop- let alone two full hands. That is unacceptable. There is nothing that can make it acceptable. She should have known the outcome would not be favorable for her because that’s what a person of reasonable intelligence would think. Making the choice to shove a cop is like choosing to walk into your kitchen right now, turn on the front eye of the stove top to “high”, wait till it gets hell-red and then slam your open hand down on it. Your brain won’t let you do that to yourself because it’s hardwired for self preservation. the 17 year old in question clearly lacks that fail safe. Physically confronting a police officer goes against self preservation, especially for us!
But that’s my opinion. What do YOU think? Was the officer in the wrong or justified in punching a 17 year old? Were the girls attacking, or defending themselves? What do you see when you watch the tape?