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Hit and Run Suspect Assaults Officers, Use of Force Under Review (Updated)

Updated with video below

Office of Professional Accountability (OPA) investigators are reviewing a weekend arrest of a suspect in a hit and run collision, 2012-342153.

Shortly after 4:30 p.m. on October 6th, 911 received a report that a driver of a white van had struck a bicyclist at 29th Avenue and East Jefferson Street and fled the scene.

Officers responding to the call spotted a similar van with a closely matching license plate in a parking lot less than a mile away from the scene of the collision. As officers pulled into the lot, they saw a man hurrying away from the van. Officers stopped him, believing him to be the suspect from the hit and run.

The 34-year-old man refused to answer officers’ questions or follow their directions.

Officers strongly believed that they had the right individual and attempted to place him under arrest. An officer readied handcuffs and took hold of the suspect’s left hand. The suspect pulled away, resisting arrest. Officers began to forcefully place the man into handcuffs but before they could do so, he spit a glob of saliva into the face of one officer, exposing him to potentially infectious material. The other two officers were also struck by the suspect’s spit. Officers used additional force and took the man into custody.

The suspect sustained injury during the arrest and was provided immediate treatment from Seattle Fire Department medics. Per standard procedure, he was evaluated at Harborview Medical Center and was then booked into King County Jail for assaulting officers.

A particular force tactic employed by one arresting officer raised questions by the SPD chain of command and a decision was made to send the case to OPA for review.

The cyclist was not seriously injured in the collision.

Originally posted 10/11/2012 at 1:01 pm.