New York Daily News: SEATTLE, Washington – A high-profile incident in which a Seattle Police officer doused a 7-year-old boy with pepper spray at a Black Lives Matter protest was “lawful and proper,” the results of a police probe released Friday said.
A compilation video showing the May 30 protest scene and a medic pouring milk over the crying child’s face was released by the Seattle Police Department’s Office of Police Accountability as the civilian-run group braced for backlash.
“OPA understands that this decision will be unpalatable to some and perhaps to many. This is understandable. In some respects, it is unpalatable to OPA,” the report said.
According to the report, the officer “directed” the pepper spray at a woman who “grabbed onto” an officer’s baton and yelled, “Don’t push me, you move back,” as police tried to move a line of protesters standing in Westlake Plaza.
The noxious spray also “inadvertently” hit the child standing behind her, the report said.
Video of the injured boy that was posted on social media led to 13,000 complaints and a decision by the Seattle City Council to pass Ordinance 126102, which creates a legal cause of action for individuals “affected” by pepper spray during a demonstration.
The Office of Police Accountability said that the new ordinance is expected to “deter similar incidents from occurring in the future and, at the very least, will provide a legal and monetary remedy.”
“This is one of the hardest cases that I, as the OPA Director, have had to consider during my nearly three years in office,” OPA Director Andrew Myerberg wrote in the report. “Certainly, there has never been a case that received as many complaints.”
Another caught-on-video incident involving an officer placing his knee on a man’s neck during a May 30 protest arrest was determined to be in violation of the department’s use-of-force policies, the OPA said.
The officer was cited for unprofessional conduct.
Both incidents happened just days after George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, died in a police homicide that touched off demonstrations around the country.
Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes as Floyd begged for air, saying “I can’t breathe” and calling out for his dead mother.