SPD dash-cam video shows questionable conduct by officers

SPD dash-cam video shows questionable conduct by officers »Play Video
SEATTLE -- In the blink of an eye, what began as a routine police check turned into a chaotic scene.

The dash cam video, exclusively obtained by KOMO News, shows more questionable conduct by Seattle police.

The footage shows two dock workers waiting for work get handcuffed. One is hit with a Taser, and both are arrested by police just because the passenger "lips off" to police.

KOMO News uncovered what the American Civil Liberties Union calls a classic case of "contempt of cop." This type of contact, which starts off as a minor stop and quickly escalates to use of force and arrests, is at the heart of what critics say is wrong with Seattle police.

Officer Harris was suspicious when he saw two dock workers, a mother and her son, sitting in a parked car for more than ans hour. They were waiting for a work call-out.

Harris and another officer approached the pair, and the situation quickly turned violent when the son appeared to to ignore the officer's demands for ID.

"You're gonna get Tased," an officer is heard saying.

"I'm not doing nothing! I'm getting out! Stop! My ankle," the man is heard yelling.

One officer used his Taser in the touch-stun mode, and the two wrestled the passenger to the ground where he suffered cuts to his forehead. The man's mother is seen getting out of the car, repeatedly asking for the officer's boss to be called.

"You guys are really out of line," the woman says.

"Sit down," says an officer.

"You're out of line, you know," says the mother.

"You are under arrest for obstructing," the officer says.

"I'm not doing anything," says the woman.

The ACLU and two defense attorneys reviewed the footage, and they both agree the use of force was unnecessary.

"Completely unnecessary," said attorney LeGrand Jones.

"Never had to happen," said ACLU Deputy Director Jennifer Shaw. "It appears that it's a training problem. Certainly, it's a supervision problem."

The incident appeared to have started when the passenger failed to provide his identification. But Jones says he didn't have to.

"Clearly, there was no obligation on the son's part to produce identification. He was a passenger. He really didn't even have to speak to police," he said. The only time one must produce an identification is when one is stopped by a police officer while driving.

All three attorneys believe the real reason the situation escalated is clearly defined by the officer himself.

"And from the very start, you were lipping off," the officer is heard saying.

In the wake of a review by the Department of Justice, Seattle Police Chief John Diaz said this type of confrontation was a missed opportunity and the focus of re-training for the entire department.

"They could have handled it better, and they should have handled it better," he said. "We were having burglaries in that area. These were people that could be the eyes and ears of the department. So that was an opportunity that we could have made more friends out in the community."

An internal investigation determined this incident involved a misuse of force, and the primary officer received a letter of reprimand.

The police chief said more than 450 officers have already gone through additional crisis-intervention training, and the department plans to continue adding to that number.