Beating Victim's Family Says Police Were Slow To Respond

Beating Victim's Family Says Police Were Slow To Respond »Play Video
PIERCE COUNTY - By now, tens of thousands of people have seen the video showing the brutal beating of two U.S. soldiers in Seattle's Pioneer Square on July 31.

For the first time since the video was released, one of the victim's family members spoke exclusively to KOMO 4 News. Their loved one was the man most severely injured.

Relatives are angry about the beating and angry at the police officers' response.

"He could have died," said one relative.

Family members are shaken by the beating. The man's family asked KOMO 4 News not to show their faces or use their names because they are still afraid of the men who committed the brazen assaults. But they contacted us to complain about what the police are saying about the attack.

"I called them (from a payphone) and they did not come until about 15 minutes later," one relative who was there and witnessed everything told us. "You're sure about that?" we asked. "Positive," she said.

Seattle Police Department Spokesman Rich Pruitt maintains officers did respond quickly.

"The first call that we have on record on our radio is at 2:33 a.m. Our first officer arrived within a couple of minutes of that, at 2:36 a.m.," said Pruitt. That officer said there was a disturbance in the streets and he called for backup.

"Within a couple of minutes of that we had additional officers on the scene," Pruitt added.

The victim's family says there was one police officer very close by while the beating was in progress. They claim that officer did not try to help.

Pruitt did not address that claim specifically, but he did say it's up to an officer to decide if he/she feels safe confronting an angry crowd alone.

"If the crowd is large, if they can't see beyond the outer crowd and see what's happening, there may be some instances where an officer doesn't necessarily want to go running into a crowd and possibly make conditions worse," he said. "We didn't know if weapons were involved and we didn't know the conditions of anybody inside that crowd," Pruitt explained.

The victim's loved ones are appalled.

"To stand by and watch people getting beat up and do nothing is really inexcusable," said one family member. "That's what you get paid for as a policeman, to step in there and stop it. Supposing these kids would have died or gotten killed?"

"Once everything died down I was standing over the top of him, waiting for the ambulance," one relative remembered. She said it felt like a long time before help arrived.

Pruitt understands that feeling and said when people are caught in the middle of an awful incident like this time does feel like it passes slowly.

"Two minutes, three minutes is a real long time to sit and wait -- especially when you are there either watching someone get hurt or being hurt yourself. It's a very long time," he said.

The Seattle Police Department will continue to investigate its response time that night.

The suspects still have not been caught. Here's some closer photos of the three suspects, along with one who is just a witness but police want to find and talk to: