2 Washington officers used excessive force during Floyd protests, police watchdog says

Brooke Wolford
·2 min read

Two Seattle police officers used excessive force during protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in May, according to the Seattle Office of Police Accountability.

Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died while in police custody on May 25 and his death sparked an avalanche of protests across the nation. He died after now-fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for about eight minutes, as three other officers didn’t intervene. All four officers were fired and charged in Floyd’s death.

The OPA released the results of five investigations. Three incidents were determined to be “not sustained,” which holds that misconduct did not occur; two were found to be “sustained,” meaning a violation of policy did occur and the chief of police will determine how the officers will be disciplined, according to the OPA.

One of the incidents determined to be sustained took place on May 29, a release from the OPA said. Officers were not allowing protesters to walk down a Seattle street and one person “refused to comply,” according to the release.

The person resisted arrest when officers tried to take him into custody and hit the officers with a water bottle, the release said. While one officer used “appropriate” force, the other punched the person who was resisting six to eight times, according to the release.

The OPA determined that officer used excessive force, “particularly because [the officer] failed to modulate his force as the threat subsided,” the release said.

The other incident determined to be sustained occurred on June 7 “when demonstrators positioned their bodies on the ground to prevent bicycle officers from leaving a barricaded area,” according to the OPA release. Officers arrested one protester for refusing to move, the release said.

A video released by the OPA showed the officer in question “forcibly pushed the demonstrator into the ground, causing injury to the demonstrator’s head,” according to the OPA.

“OPA found that the force was not proportional because of the lack of resistance on the part of the demonstrator and the lack of physical threat to the officers,” the release said.

The Seattle Police Department has not released an official statement about the officers who used excessive force.

The OPA has received over 19,000 “emails, phone calls and other feedback” about the police department’s response to protests. The feedback resulted in 126 investigations, which can be tracked on the OPA’s website dashboard.