Video shows aftermath of alleged police beating

Video shows aftermath of alleged police beating
SEATTLE -- A Seattle police officer is under investigation for the way he arrested a hit-and-run suspect, and newly-obtained video sheds light on the controversial case.

Police say Leo Etherly matched the description of a wanted man. On October 6, they spotted him leaving a van that also matched the description of the suspect vehicle and attempted to question him at the corner of 23rd and Union.

But officers say Etherly wouldn't cooperate during questioning. In the end, Etherly was badly beaten after police say he spit on them.

Etherly's attorney, James Egan, said video of the incident shows his client being brutalized.

"This is by far the worst I have ever seen, and I'll put my reputation on that," Egan said.

Days after the arrest, Etherly spoke out about the arrest.

"The officer hit me numerous times in my face," he said. "I have a fracture ... I have to have surgery after the swelling goes down."

Police have a different version of the story. They say the 34-year-old was uncooperative and spit at an officer.

Egan said his client was only gasping for breath because an officer was choking him.

"It's a reaction that you get when you're waterboarded, frankly," he said.

Surveillance video from a nearby liquor store offers up a second angle of the alleged beating, but the angle Egan wants people to see is the video from the police car's dashboard camera.

"The officer takes the most tremendous fist and throws it right at Mr. Etherly so fast, I've never seen a fist move that fast," Egan said.

Egan can't release that video, but KOMO News has put in a public records request for a copy.

Etherly wasn't charged for the hit-and run crash, and now he says he's partially blind from the punch.

"The officer should be held accountable, that's how I feel," Ehterly said.

The King County Prosecutor's Office is reviewing the case and could charge Etherly with felony assault. Etherly was arrested by Kent police in March for an unrelated hit and run, but court records show that he was ultimately convicted of negligent driving.