McGinn: SPD knew about video of kicking incident 'for some time'

McGinn: SPD knew about video of kicking incident 'for some time' »Play Video
The officer, who is seen with the backpack, is seen kicking the suspect on the floor in this image from surveillance footage obtained by KOMO News.
SEATTLE -- Five different legal organizations are echoing the call for the Department of Justice to investigate the kicking incident involving a Seattle police officer.

And KOMO News has learned although the command staff didn't know anything about the surveillance video of the incident until it aired on KOMO-TV on Wednesday night, the video was no secret.

The video, which was taken on Oct. 18, was evidence in a criminal case. In fact, the officers saw it and gave it to the King County Prosecutor's Office. It then went to the defense attorney, and according to one local attorney, it was even played in open court.

The video shows an undercover officer attacking a suspect who has his hands raised. On that same night, that same officer was captured on cell phone video. A tipster shot the footage until his phone was knocked away.

Five minority bar associations are outraged by the footage. On Friday, they backed the American Civil Liberties Union's plan to formally petition the Department of Justice to investigate.

"This young man showed the police officers his hands he was standing there, and in spite of that, he still gets beaten, kicked. What more can we do?" said Nicole Gaines of the Loren Miller Bar Association.

"It's unacceptable and it's time. It's time that the chief, the mayor and council do something about this," said Fe Lopez of the Latina/o Bar Association.

But Rich O'Neill, president of the Seattle Police Guild, is outraged. He insists what you don't see and don't hear tell the whole story. He insists Officer James Lee used appropriate force. He says the officer repeatedly told the teen to get down, and kicking is a takedown tactic officers are taught.

The group admits all they know is what they see, and they don't like it.

"What about the, you know, two subsequent kicks?" said Lopez.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn says everything is being reviewed, including the cell phone video obtained by KOMO News.

"That video has been forwarded to our Office of Accountability," McGinn said.

KOMO News has also learned that although command staff says they never saw the video, it was never a secret.

"You're pointing out something correct," McGinn said. "That video was in possession of pros, and definitely for some time."

The mayor did add, however, that the moment Seattle Police Chief John Diaz saw the video, he called for an immediate investigation.

Because the mayor wants transparency and no lingering questions, he has instructed the Office of Professional Accountability to investigate.

The mayor also said he would welcome a federal investigation launched by the Department of Justice if the department chooses to investigate.