The Seattle Police Department is reviewing a 2010 incident at a West Seattle shopping center, which resulted in police arresting a then-18-year-old man for biting an officer.
On December 27, 2010, patrol officers saw a parked car left running in front of a busy department store during the holiday season, which they believed was suspicious enough to investigate.
Officers were concerned the car could be a potential getaway vehicle for a shoplifter or robber, and tracked down the man who had left the car running. Officers found the man was not the registered owner of the vehicle, and discovered the man had, following prior run-ins with police, been flagged as a potential danger to officers.
As officers tried to contact the registered owner of the vehicle, the man repeatedly refused to follow officers’ directions to keep his hands on the hood of a patrol car. Because of the man’s potential risk to officers, police opted to handcuff him out of an abundance of caution, to ensure their own safety as they continued their investigation.
The man, however, was not interested in being handcuffed, and struggled with officers, pushing away from them as they tried to get his hands behind his back. During the struggle, the man bit down on an officer’s gloved finger. In response, the officer struck the man, who then released his bite.
The officer later sought medical treatment for the bite, which had broken skin and caused bleeding. The man refused treatment from Seattle Fire officials.
After being taken to the Southwest Precinct, he was taken to the King County Jail and booked for assaulting the officer.
The case was referred for prosecution, but the King County Prosecutor’s Office declined to file charges. The case was then referred to the Seattle City Attorney’s Office for consideration. Charges were filed but ultimately dismissed prior to going to trial.
The SPD chain of command reviewed the force response in this case. A second review of the force response was conducted by Assistant Chief Jim Pugel, who agreed that the force response was reasonable, necessary and within department policy.
Earlier this morning, the Office of Professional Accountability received a complaint regarding the 2010 incident. OPA is now conducting a separate review of this case