Seattle, WA – A heroic Seattle police officer faces potential suspension after his supervisor filed a complaint against him after he courageously subdued a man who threatened people with an ice axe.
Recently released bodycam footage of the Aug. 21, 2017 incident showed Seattle officers as they entered an REI store on Yale Avenue North, KOMO reported.
Security personnel at the store had contacted police after James Smith was seen stealing an ice axe.
When a female employee confronted him and attempted to stop him from leaving the store, Smith threatened her with the axe, the security officers told police.
The officers followed Smith outside of the store, as he blatantly refused to stop or to comply with the officers’ commands.
“He’s been looking back at me, and he’s holding it up like this like he’s going to swing it at me,” one officer said in the video.
They continued to follow the axe-wielding man down the sidewalk for many blocks, and ushered unsuspecting citizens out of his path.
“Man, it’s okay – just drop the ice axe,” an officer said at one point. But Smith marched on ahead.
“At some point, if we don’t act, someone’s going to get hurt,” Seattle Police Officers Guild President Kevin Stuckey told KOMO.
The officers recognized an opportunity to end the threat when Smith turned down a narrow corridor near the Seattle Times building.
The officers closed in, and warned the suspect that he would be tased if he did not comply, but Smith responded by raising the axe over his head.
When he turned away from officers to resume his march, Seattle Officer Nick Guzley swiftly raced up on the man’s right side, and tackled him against a concrete barrier, pinning his arms to his sides.
The situation was immediately quelled, no one was injured, and Smith was taken into custody, KOMO reported.
He was subsequently convicted of robbery, and remains in prison.
“I thought it was a commendable act,” Stuckey said. “The alternative is to continue to let him keep walking, until he walks into somebody while he’s clearly having a mental break, and he hits them in the head. And then what? Then the question would be, ‘Why didn’t you act sooner?’”
But instead of being hailed for safely subduing the axe-wielding man, Officer Guzley faces possible punishment for his actions.
Following the incident, one of his own supervisors filed a complaint against him with the Office of Police Accountability, alleging that the officer “failed to de-escalate” the situation, KOMO reported.
Officer Guzley could be suspended without pay for two days – a decision that will ultimately be left up to Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best following the officer’s May 11 due process hearing.
You can see clips from the bodycam video obtained by KOMO news below: