Dash-cam video of Seattle police punching man released

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SEATTLE — A controversial video of a Seattle police officer punching a man during an arrest was released Tuesday.

The video comes a day after a local lawyer filed suit against Seattle’s police chief, saying the department was keeping “explosive pictures” of police beating his client, Leo Etherly, from the public.

The video stems from an Oct. 6 incident when police were on the hunt for a hit-and-run suspect. Police thought Etherly was the man responsible for the hit-and-run after they say they got a match on his license plates.

What happened next led to accusations  of excessive force.

“This is so far afield from appropriate policing that it should cause concern for all of us,” said Etherly’s attorney, James Egan. Egan filed a suit against the police department on Monday for not releasing the dash-cam video to him through the Public Records Act.

The department released the video Tuesday, partly in hopes of stemming the tide of negative publicity surrounding the video.

“We think it’s a reaction to the public interest and our commitment to being more transparent, more open,” said Seattle Police Sgt. Sean Whitcomb.

Whitcomb also said the video clearly shows that Etherly was uncooperative and resisting arrest. In the footage, it appears he is held down by his chin or neck. Etherly claims he was being choked.

“If you’re breathing your own saliva, you’re going to have a reaction,” said Egan. “He did not intentionally spit on the officer.”

But when he did spit, the officer responded by punching him and taking him down to the ground. Egan said Etherly now has permanent, partial blindness in one eye.

Etherly has not been charged with a crime. Detectives are still investigating the case. Seattle police won’t say if the officer used reasonable force. The case is being sent to the Office of Professional Accountability to decide.

Etherly’s lawyer said accountability is the reason he wanted the dash-cam video shown to the public in the first place.

“That’s my beef, that in some cases we’re getting officers that are reckless and cause injury,” Egan said.

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  • Melanie

    This kind of conduct by police is definitely unacceptable. Anybody else acting this way would be punished! Why should they have an exception? I won’t go to Seattle …..the police look as dangerous as the criminals! They have way too much power! Violence promotes violence. Figure it out people!!!!!!!

      • Josef

        What a dumb comment, Don. Yes he was being uncooperative but the Officer's actions do not comport with the use of force continuum.

        Let me tell you a little story. I study a martial art which is very attractive to federal and local LEOs as well as members of various brances of the armed forces (and it's not Krav Maga). I was teaching and working with a bcpd detective doing drills to keep a perp from stealing their gun. It was his first class. He was experienced in jujutsu. Everytime i reached for his blu gun, he wound up to throw a hammerfist or a cross. At the end, i showed him a simple movement. I hit him in a pressure point in the neck. he stumbled back, coughing, and calmed down 30 seconds later. No permanent damage. No excessive force. No wasted energy.

      • colleenpatriciawilliams

        He wasn't a criminal, and I'm amazed that people in this nation have forgotten we are not a Napolean law system, where guilt is presumed first.

        We are based on English common law, wherein one is supposed to be presumed innocent before guilty. Did you not learn this in school?
        I'm shocked at your comment. Are you not an American?
        I so miss the old days of school before Ronny Raygun. That would Ronald Reagan,

        You can't be a naturalized citizen; they have to know this to GET citizenship. I sooo miss proper education. It used to be that one couldn't graduate from high school without knowing this.

      • Brain

        The cop comitted a crime too. The law is pretty EXPLICIT and CLEAR and BY DEFINITION, the cop comitted A CRIME. So you're a hypocrite.

  • M.J.Churlin

    Burgess figures his bretheren super citizens, of the seattle guild of thugs and mercenaries, are not being respected in a proper manner by the serfs of Wa state, has decided to run for mayor to impose a new brand of oppressin to the scum who pay their salaries. All Hail the Overlords!

    • fuckthepolice

      Spitting does not necessitate punching him in the face you dumb fuck!
      FUCK these pigs! Each of them deserves a .50 caliber round in the head!

  • Brian

    The funny part of the entire case is the fact that if Etherly was white none of us would have heard about this. Its obvious he was not being choked and that he spit on the officer. I applaud the officer and say lets start going old school on these scum bags no matter thier race. And to Melanie, the only criminal act here was the assaulting of the officer by bodily fluid of the jackass in question, the officers actions are what any normal person would do if spit on.

    • colleenpatriciawilliams

      No, it's not what a "normal" person would do. And when did innocent until proven guilty end? I think you would feel differently if they went "old school" on you.
      Innocent people go to jail all the time.

    • Donna

      Seriously Brian. The man was stopped over bogus info in the first place. Don't you think you would be a little perturbed if you're yanked out of your car and man-handled before given an explanation as to why? Oh, but that's right, this type of treatment doesn't happen to your kind.

      • Brian

        My kind? and I'm sure the police were told prior to stoping him that this is bogus info. Use your head, they reacted on info given to them, next time maybe they can stop at your house and use your magic wand and crystal ball prior to dealing with these situations.

      • Brian

        Hey Glenn, do you even know what Siege Heile means? Furthermore since you like to use such words you should know that the correct spelling is Sieg Heil.

    • Nate

      Couldn't have said it better, Canadian! Don't break the law, act like a punk, give respect and you'll get it and like you said, chances are you won't get smacked in your dome by a cop. I've never pushed a cop or broken the law and guess what, I can see perfectly out of both my eyes!! Here's looking at you, Seattle's finest;)

      • Glenn Weyant

        Nate, respect is earned and while most cops (I think most) are good cops there are becoming more and more bad ones. I respected the police a long time ago and you know what I got??? I got sexually molested by a cop while he was frisking me and this was when I was a minor. And you know what he told me, he said: "this is what I do to people that run from me." He was doing this to other boys, he is a pedophile with a badge, sexual molesting with impunity. Screw YOU and your Nazi cops, THEY TOOK MY RESPECT AND PISSED ON IT! Oh, and Nate, I'm not a criminal, oh bummer, huh.

    • colleenpatriciawilliams

      Did you actually READ the whole article? In the beginning, it clearly states that he was THOUGHT to be the suspect, which in America, still does NOT make him guilty.
      You should read up on our system before you make comments. Otherwise, you come off looking bad. Like now.

    • Glenn Weyant

      Hey Canadian eh! Where would we all be today if YOU told that to, let's say, George Washington or Paul Revere or Nathan Hail 230 years ago, HUH! Hey everybody, ole Canadian eh! wants us all to get in lock step with the jack boot cops! Why don't you go to http://www.injusticeeverywhere.com and get educated.

  • NYYankees

    No where does it say he broke a law. It says his license plate matched. Which means nothing. The license plate could have been stolen and put back. His car could have been stolen and put back in its original place. No one knows all the facts yet. Stop assuming. But what we CAN confirm from EVIDENCE in the VIDEO is the use of excessive force.

  • Elizabeth Conley

    So not wanting to hold hands with a police officer is not "resisting arrest?" I wouldn't want those creepy thugs trying to hold my hand either. They're way too touchy feely. If the officer wants to arrest someone, he should tell the suspect he/she is under arrest, then give the suspect instructions as to how to comply.

    I'm going to "resist" holding hands with a touchy feely officer too. It's creepy and disgusting, and would cause my skin to crawl with revulsion immediately. When are these "officers" going to start behaviong professionally?

  • Dan

    Are you serious? You can't be that ignorant, could you? He wasn't trying to hold hands. Let me guess, you are on food stamps, get welfare checks, don't want to pay taxes, and are always looking for a free ride. Those of you defending criminals are ruining this country and should get the heck out.

  • mark edwards

    The guy is resisting and spitting, he got what he needed. Don't resist and you won't get roughed up, cops are not paid to be punching bags or take a bunch of mouthing.

    • Brian

      Learn to read? And watch a video?
      Cops paid 70 thousand plus a year – a far cry for the absolute highest wage for a job that doesn't require a college degree.
      You and so many other "people" have no understanding of the law, and think you don't have to acknolwedge and you just IGNORE the WRITTEN LAW regarding this stuff. People who were smarter than you wrote those laws.
      Think about the word ETHICS for a few hours in your entire life. Especially if your JOB is part of administering JUSTICE. You understand neither of those words. And neither do a lot of cops. It's not just unethical and stupid, it's unprossional.

    • Glenn Weyant

      Yeah Mark they are paid to take a bunch of mouthing, where have you been. Just because you and some other guys here like to lick the cops butts does not mean I should. Remember people, knowledge is power. Know your rights. You can start at http://www.injusticeeverywhere.com and see for yourselves just how bad the cops are around this country. Mark don't bother you're already doomed.

    • Brian

      Amen brother. All of these hand holding tree huggers dont have a clue about life. They will all go to Starbucks later and stoke each other.

  • dds

    how is he an idiot when he wasnt the one they were looking for so before you go throwing racial bull crap in there read the damn story god people in this world can be so damn stupid wake the hell up please

  • bng

    Of course he is being uncooperative, he did nothing wrong to be arrested in the first place. Plus, even if he meant to spit on the cop, officers should be trained to handle themselves professionally in these types of situations. The man's arms are being held down by two other officers, the officer didn't use force to try to subdue him, but rather let his anger cloud over and caused him to assault the "perpetrator."
    This is ridiculous.

    • John Cokos

      BNG, good point you raise. When you get bum rushed, and get a beat down by the Seattle SS when you KNOW your are being profiled, it's your FIRST reaction is to push back. Once you've been in that situation, all the stupid pro-cop bullshit is meaniless…….you poser's are just mouthing a lot of nonsense. Get a good beat down from the cops and come back with all your liberal pro law crap…

  • colleenpatriciawilliams

    I, personally, hope that every last one of you that is for cops beating suspects, gets to experience this, just for being suspected.
    As we in the scientific community know, innocent people go to jail all the time.

  • NOW

    I hope to hear that this cop being killed by having his head beat in with a Baseball Bat ! If this starts happening to bad cops then other cops will change their corrupt ways.

  • Joseph

    When I lived on the street up on Broadway,someone involved in the police force came up to me on the street and told me to stay away from back streets and alleys because officer so and so has a "Bullet for your Back"Shortly aftrer that I get sober and have been sober for about 18yrs.I will always remember that and have since carried a gun just in case…

  • John Cord

    The dude was disorderly and hostile toward the cops for sure. The cop could have just pepper sprayed him after he spit at him instead of slamming his elbow into the dude's face…that was a bit excessive.

  • Fred

    See the full video on youtube. It's 26 minutes long. This is an edited version intended to create a reaction from you, viewership, and hopefullly revenue through advertising. The stills are inflamatory. The media is not objective. Watch the full video, then judge.

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