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Community Outraged Over Police Officer's Punch of Black Teen In The Face

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By Chris B. Bennett, Special to the NNPA from The Seattle Medium –

(NNPA) - Members of the African-American community woke up appalled and angered by the images of a young Black female being punched in the face by a Seattle Police officer. The video, aired on KOMO 4 TV, shows Seattle Police Officer Ian Walsh punching the Black teen in her face while struggling to handcuff another Black female.

The incident began, according to police reports, as the officer had stopped a young Black male for jaywalking across Martin Luther King, Jr. Way just south of the intersection of Rainier Avenue and MLK. The officer was explaining to the young man the need to use the pedestrian overpass that runs over the busy intersection instead of jaywalking.

Then four young women jaywalked across the street – admittedly to find out why their friend (the Black male) had been stopped by the officer. The officer then attempted to stop the four females for jaywalking and gather their information in order to issue a verbal warning or a citation, when one of the females, age 19, began walking away. The officer told her that she was required to identify herself so he could issue her a citation, and if she refused to do so she would be arrested for obstruction. At this point, Walsh indicates that the young woman continued to walk away. Walsh then walked up to the young lady and “took hold of her upper left arm with his right hand,” and according to Walsh’s report she tensed up and began to resist.

The video shows the officer struggling with the young lady for some time, and then her friend steps in and attempts to help separate the other young lady from the officer. After she steps in and pushes the officer, the officer steps back, looks at the young lady, strides towards her and punches her in the face. “It’s appalling to me to see this,” said Rev. Robert Jeffrey, Sr. pastor of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church of the video. “If a man had done this in their home we would have put him under the jail.”

“The police walk around like they are exempt from the basic rules of decency and honor, if this is honor then we have sunk to the lowest level in this city,” added Jeffrey.

Nicole Gaines, president of the Loren Miller Bar Association, was equally disturbed by the video and the actions of the officer.

“It troubles me that an officer, who is trained, could allow a jaywalking incident to escalate into an incident where force and violence were used,” said Gaines. “He is the adult in this situation. He is trained to make sure that incidents like a jaywalking incident doesn’t escalate into violence.”

According to SPD, the incident will be reviewed by both internal affairs and a civilian review. However, they did indicate that the girls were being “verbally antagonistic” towards the officer, and that the 17-year-old girl intervened while Walsh was attempting to place the other teen in handcuffs and placed her hands on him causing the officer to believe that she was attempting to physically help the other teen to escape. SPD alleges that Walsh pushed back the second girl, but the girl came back at him, and Walsh then punched her.

“The provocation by this 17-year-old kid may have presented a confrontation situation, but the use of violence in the form of a full punch in the face was just plain wrong,” said James Kelly, President and CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle. “We thought the Police would have learned lessons about overreacting to non-violent situations based on the recent incident involving a Hispanic youth a month ago...Our police should be thinking that overreaction to a non-violent situation is a last resort — not the standard practice,” continued Kelly. “One can only wonder what would have happened if the video had not been made.”

However, SPD was not convinced that the officer handled the situation incorrectly.

“The issue we have to investigate is whether the force he used is reasonable given the combative resistance he was facing,” said Assistant Seattle Police Chief Nick Metz. “We’re not going to pass judgment on that until the matter has been thoroughly investigated.”

According to Metz, Walsh will be transferred to SPD’s training section.

“The officer is going to be transferred to the training section for a few days to review the tactics that he’s been taught,” Metz said.

While the police indicate that they’ve been proactive in reaching out to the African-American Community, African American leaders want action and accountability.

“At this time our community seems to be in an abusive relationship with law enforcement,” says Seattle/King County NAACP president James Bible. “We’re living in a hostile environment for people of color, and a hostile environment for people in poverty.”

Harriett Walden with Mothers for Police Accountability said, "We know that jaywalking is not an arrestable offense ... They [the police] are our employees, they are not volunteers. And I didn’t like how they used my money yesterday. I want to see him fired.”

The community has been increasingly enraged.

“This was an appalling act of injustice,” said pastor Reggie Witherspoon of Mt. Cavalry Christian Center. “There is no way it can be looked at as proper behavior and we are demanding that something be done about it.”

Both teens were cited for jaywalking. The 19-year-old was booked into the King County Jail for investigation of obstructing an officer. The 17-year-old girl was booked into the Youth Service Center for investigation of assault of an officer.

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0 # Guest 2010-07-08 13:59
PS: I actually don't like the term "Mulatoo"... but being that it came from another mixed-race girl, its okay. Like only certain people use the N-Word :)

Funny thing, a white friend of mine tried to hook me up with a mixed-girl friend of hers. Needless to say, the friend was a bit confused why we didn't "connect"... which I found amusing. Just because someone the same color DOESN'T mean they'll like each other. Our personalities didn't match for romance and she only likes white guys. LOL
0 # Guest 2010-07-08 13:48

I agree and understand mostly what you're getting at. As humans, we WILL always have some degree of racism. I actually don't like being around people who are ALL one race... black or white... but even I have my prejudice, healthy low amount in my book. I don't like Mexicans - but I have friends who are and I date some because I go by the person, first.

I'm dating a white girl, and I meet one of her close girl friends who I was talking to 1 on 1. Turns out we are both mixed race. When my date comes back from the powder room, her friend joke-yells "you didn't tell me you were dating a Mulatto!!" We (the girl and I) said something to the effect that it didn't matter.

We'll always have racism... unless we somehow turn into blue Navi from Avatar. But we can still treat each other with some respect.
0 # Guest 2010-07-03 23:37
I am in know way defending the actions of these two young ladies, I personally feel that they both should have been arrested and charged with the assault on the officer, My point is that race will all ways matter in this country in how you are treated by law enforcement,I am saying that had the young lady that pushed the officer been WHITE he would not have punched her as all he saw was a black person it did not matter weather she were male or female she was black he knows he will be vindicated no matter what level of force he uses against a person of color he could have shot or tasered her and it would have been deemed justifiable use of force. That is the nature of the beast that we all live with each and everyday.
I just wish the media would stop putting a microphone in AL Sharpton's face every time black news happens he does not speak for the black community, he speaks to be in the news
0 # Guest 2010-07-03 15:18
Black, white, whatever...

If you act like stupid GANGTA morons to a police officer, you're going to get punched in the face sooner or later and end up in jail. I'm seeming more stupid white kids getting in trouble - thinking they are tough. Now the only difference is that many of the white kids have the ability to turn "white" again when there is Police involved. ;)
0 # Guest 2010-07-02 16:52
Allie Kay
I agree with you on just about every point except the issue of if the young lady were white.If the girls were white we would not be discussing the situation because there would not have been a punch this officer saw two black girls who gives a damn about what he or his fellow officer's do to them except the black community and the white mans spokesman for all things black AL SHARPTON LOL.
I live in a nice family community and have never or will never call a cop for anything other than taking a report I don't trust them to protect me or my family that is why Mr.Gloc and Remington are my friends not the local PD.
Why don't we reverse this whole situation the cop is now black the girls are white black cop punches white girl black cop gets fired and maybe charged criminally.
0 # Guest 2010-07-01 13:29
As man who is mixed race (B&W) and has been harassed by police because I'm not white, I was upset when I saw the headline and photo of the officer punching the girl in the face.

I then watched the video. The girls were in the wrong and by law - they were obstructing and assaulting the officer. That 17 year old "minor" is bigger that the officer! Here is some woman who breaks his hold on another (I've been treated worse at 15, over nothing). He reacted quickly to control the situation. Tazer would have been worse, if he had a tazer and time to use it. His actions where justified.

Hopefully that officer will not get in trouble.

Oh, one of my sisters who is BLACK, is a police officer and would have punched the girl too.
+1 # Guest 2010-06-24 05:01
Can there be any more cogent evidence of the fact that there are too many cops in America? When a cop loses complete control over a jay walking incident and ends up assaulting an underage minor, it is clear that officer is superfluous and had nothing better to do. However, I agree that all of those that say the officer will not be held accountable for his disgraceful actions are correct. One would need to look no further than NJ State Trooper Robert Higbee or the countless other examples of cops assaulting, or in some cases killing, civilians and the cops always win their trials because they are allowed to paint themselves ast the "victim" during the trial. Cops are allowed to carry guns to perform their official duties. When I see the alarming increase in out of control police officers it causes me to be far more concerned about safety from police officers than from the other members of the public.
-1 # Guest 2010-06-23 02:32
Every time a jaywalker is reprimanded by the police, someone is murdered, robbed, or raped somewhere else I bet you. Jay-walking is only dangerous to the people who jay-walk. I'm sure there was someone else who warranted police investigation. Go after murderers, thieves and rapists. Leave the jaywalkers alone. They made it to the other side of the street, so what are you really arguing? That they might not have made it? There seriously are more pressing issues to deal with.
+1 # Guest 2010-06-22 23:05
These woman are in the wrong NOT the officer. The 19 year old woman should not have resisted and used derogatory names toward him. Resisted all over jay-walking. At 19 you are an adult obey the law! As for the 17 year old. She should have stayed out of it. The moment she put her hands on that officer he could have done much more than "punch" her. I give this officer credit. And does anyone even bother to say anything about the young man they were with that pulled out a gun? Nope Illegal I bet. Stop treating it as a race issue or police brutality when these woman are old enough to know right from wrong.
+2 # Guest 2010-06-22 22:04
I'm sorry, I feel like these women are being sided with just because they are a minority. People are quoted saying that the police are trained to handle this situation, and it shouldn't escalate. However, escalation isn't totally dependent on the officer. If he issued verbal warning, and that girl still chose to walk away, then it's her fault. From the reports, the officer wasn't just up and flipping on the kids. He was explaining, and these women (no matter their race) worsened the situation. The girl then made it even worse by walking away and not listening. So in a situation like that, the officer has no choice but to assert authority because he is AN AUTHORITY FIGURE... Then she chose to resist and make a scene, and her friend jumped in... The officer had to react.
Blame these girls parents, not the officer trying to keep them from getting run over by a car.
+1 # Guest 2010-06-21 16:05
being from Brooklyn I cannot stand Al Sharpton and never agreed with him but I am more outraged than he. A true gentlemen would find another smarter way to deal with this than punching a woman regardless of what rules and regulationa allow him to do. Furthermore jaywalking should not be enforced by police unless an excuse is needed to engage a suspect (that is not related to jaywalking). Its poor policy to go after jaywalkers
0 # Guest 2010-06-21 14:37
Agree with CC!! Parents should teach their kids about manners.
It is amazing to me how pastors can look at video's like this and say that there is ONE wrong side. How do you look at the behavior of these women and condone what is happening? If the girls had been white, I guarantee no pastor would come forward. Someone would say -- wow, these girls are totally out of control just like Britney and Lindsey. Let's REALLY start reacting to and treating everyone like they really are equal!!!
+9 # Guest 2010-06-21 11:40
The officer has no way of knowing how old his assailant is, nor does it matter. There are obviously quite a few persons standing around, the officer is alone handling what should have been a simple warning/citation. Had the 19 yoa female stayed and identified herself as requested, the incident would never have escalated. The 17 yoa should have stayed out of the situation altogether. How about if instead of all these pastors, Harriet Walden of "Mothers" and NAACP CEO's yelling and screaming about the police actions, spend a bit of that energy teaching their children how to properly and RESPECTFULLY respond to the police officers requests. . Assaults are NOT a part of the job description for a police officer. Anyone who believes that it is or should be needs to sit down and do a lot of thinking.

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