Seattle, WA – The Seattle police officer who walked his patrol bike over the head of a protester blocking a road during a riot in Seattle last year was suspended for seven days without pay for his actions.
The incident occurred on Sept. 23, 2020 during violent protests in Seattle following a Louisville grand jury’s decision not to charge any police officers with the death of Breonna Taylor, CBS News reported.
One Seattle police officer was knocked off of his bike that same night and hit in the back of his head by a bat-wielding rioter during the violent uprising in downtown Seattle.
Video showed officers in crowd control gear attempting to clear the streets after a riot was declared.
There was a large group of officers on foot and on bicycles making their way down the street, loudly ordering protesters to move out of the way.
One protester threw himself to the ground across the center markings of the roadway, directly in the path of the oncoming police bicycles, the video showed.
The video showed that one of the bike cops who was walking alongside his bike pushed his bicycle up and over the head of the protester on the ground and continued walking without stopping.
Initial reports claimed the officer had ridden his bike over the protester’s head, but video of the incident disproved that assertion.
The Seattle Police Department’s Office of Police Accountability (OPA) said it had received more than 30 complaints about the incident which quickly went viral on social media, CBS News reported.
OPA said that the Seattle PD’s Force Investigation Team had investigation and found “potential violations of SPD policy, as well as potential criminal conduct.
The incident was also referred to the King County Sheriff’s Office for a potential criminal investigation, CBS News reported.
The officer was placed on administrative leave while the investigations were conducted.
The Seattle Times identified the officer as Seattle Police Officer Eric D. Walter.
King County Sheriff’s Detective Mike Mellis investigated Officer Walter but did not find probable cause to charge him with assault in connection with the incident.
Det. Mellis reasoned that Officer Walter and other officers had a right to forcefully remove protesters from the street the night it occurred, the Seattle Times reported.
The Seattle City Attorney’s Office reviewed the sheriff’s department’s investigation of the case and declined to file charges against Officer Walter.
Prosecutors also noted in a memo that the man whose head was rolled over by the bike “does not wish to participate in the prosecutor’s case.”
So OPA launched its own investigation after the city attorney refused to charge Officer Walter with a crime, the Seattle Times reported.
The watchdog agency’s investigation found that Officer Walter used prohibited force and broke department rules regarding reasonable discretion and professionalism when he rolled his bike over the protester’s head.
The officer was ultimately given a seven-day, unpaid suspension for the incident, the Seattle Times reported.
Seattle Police Sergeant Randy Huserik said in an email that he didn’t know if Officer Walter had served the suspension yet but said he “can report that the officer is assigned back in patrol.”
OPA Director Andrew Myerberg said during an interview on Wednesday that the suspension his office had recommended for Officer Walter was “on the higher end of discipline” when compared to similar cases, the Seattle Times reported.
“It was not just that he intentionally rolled a bike over a protester’s head, but also the significant public attention that negatively impacted SPD that we considered here,” Myerberg said.