A Seattle police officer who rolled a bicycle over a man’s head during a protest in September 2020 was disciplined this week by the city’s Office of Police Accountability (OPA), receiving a seven-day suspension without pay.
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The incident occurred in the former CHOP area near the Capitol Hill East Precinct, during protests against a Kentucky grand jury’s decision to indict one of the three officers involved in the death of Breonna Taylor for gratuitous endangerment.
In a video posted to social media, several bike officers can be seen moving forward, with one walking the two wheels of his bicycle directly above a prone man’s head. The incident was referred for potential criminal charges, with the Seattle City Attorney’s Office ultimately declining to pursue the case, citing the man’s “failure to cooperate with the prosecution.”
In a statement to the OPA, the man said he had “no interest in criminal charges being brought against anyone” and that he wanted “a more stable and peaceful world, not revenge”.
The officer also spoke to the OPA, saying that although he noticed the man lying in the street in front of him as he walked on his bike, he “thought he had to stay on his line and couldn’t not move as it might confuse the officers following him, he went on to allege that he believed he had lifted his bicycle over the man.
After seeing a video of him riding his bike over the man later, the officer admitted it looked “awful”.
The OPA also cited a separate, longer video taken at the scene, which stated that “approximately two seconds” before the officer reached the man, the man had “laid down in the street on the direct path of the officers”.
While the OPA relied on the city attorney’s office to find out if a crime had been committed, it ruled that the officer violated the SPD’s use-of-force policy, as well as employee standards. which dictate how officers should “strive to be professional”.
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“OPA believes that the decision to step over the subject, rather than circumvent it, was a poor decision,” the decision read. “The video indicates – despite (the officer’s) recollection – that there was more than enough room for (the officer) to move to one side or the other to ensure that ‘he was avoiding the subject.
“Furthermore, although (the officer) denied having any intention of contacting the subject, the video is compelling evidence to the contrary,” he continues. “Again, looking at the video, there is no indication that he ever lifted the bike while walking on the subject.”
You can read the OPA’s full report at this link.