After the large scale protests around the country related to George Floyd’s death , the Seattle police watchdog organization was overwhelmed with complaints about police misconduct. Such a large volume of complaints were filed in a short period of time that the local police accountability office had difficulty sorting out duplicate incident reports and responding properly. 

Chaos in downtown Seattle included violence during police response

Although only several dozen arrests were made, there were thousands of complaints related to illegal uses of force and other forms of misconduct. Various people who attended the protests posted videos to social media platforms and other places around the internet. These clips showed officers choking protesters, pushing them, holding them on the ground, and engaging in other forms of violence. 

One widely shared video showed a young woman who was hit by pepper spray in severe pain. Another crucial clip showed an officer kneeling on a man’s neck outside of a T-Mobile retail location. The officer did not remove his knee until another came by and said something to him. A video from the following day showed an officer on a bike who rode by a protester and immediately grabbed the individual, putting the person in a headlock shortly afterward. 

The Seattle police responded by saying that they made 57 arrests during the riots and protests for crimes such as arson, assault, property destruction, and burglary. The final tally of damage included hundreds of businesses that were destroyed and eight cars set on fire by agitators during the protests. The city’s Mayor had declared a 5 pm curfew that was extended through the weekend and into the early parts of the following week. 

The city of Seattle does have a separate office run by civilians that deals with police accountability. They acknowledged that there were about 12,000 complaints in total received during the week the protests began. However, they claim that many of them were duplicate complaints about the incident with the woman who was hit with pepper spray. They also used the office’s social media accounts to try to dispel some misinformation that had been circulating, regarding which officers were responsible for certain actions. Some of the most common complaints were related to the use of flashbangs, improperly secured weapons, covering up badge numbers and body cameras, and punching people who were already detained. Complaints were received in such a high volume that the accountability office told people to use online forms to report incidents rather than use the phone lines, which were overwhelmed. 

Once the complaints are separated and sorted out, complete investigations can take months before any decisions are made or officers are disciplined. 

Speak with a police brutality attorney

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