Seattle, WA – The Seattle police watchdog group released footage on Friday of an altercation during a protest on May 30 and said their investigation had determined that officers had not intentionally pepper-sprayed a seven-year-old boy featured in a viral video from the chaos (video below).
The video of the screaming child sparked more than 13,000 complaints against officers to the Seattle Police Department’s Office of Police Accountability (OPA), KIRO reported.
The bodycam footage OPA released showed that the little boy who had been brought to the protest by his father was on the front lines of the demonstration.
Video showed the little boy cowering behind his father as a nearby protesters grabbed an officer’s baton.
That’s when another officer ran up and deployed pepper spray to push the protesters back, the video showed.
“[The boy] and his father moved towards a protester who had grabbed an officer’s baton and was pushing into the police line,” the OPA report said, according to KIRO. “An SPD supervisor used pepper spray to move the protester back. In response, the protester ducked, causing the pepper spray to inadvertently affect the boy and his father.”
OPA investigators said the father and son had just begun walking away when the pepper spray was deployed, according to the report by OPA.
The video showed the father turned back briefly and OPA determined that may have been when the seven year old was exposed to the pepper spray.
Investigators reviewed all the available bodycam video of the incident and determined the officer was not able to see the child when he deployed the pepper spray, KIRO reported.
OPA’s report said the pepper spray was deployed by a sergeant in accordance with Seattle police policy in response to the actions of the protesters.
The family of the child who was pepper sprayed expressed their dissatisfaction with the police oversight organization’s findings, KIRO reported.
“We are deeply disappointed, but not surprised, by the result reached by the OPA. Today, they have confirmed that it is the Seattle Police Department’s position that the use of pepper spray in an intentional and reckless manner that it would strike an innocent child exercising their First Amendment rights is ‘within policy,’” the Avery family said in a statement released to the media.
“We understand the OPA has said it is ‘sorry’ for these actions,” the statement continued. “But ‘sorry’ and ‘regret’ is not sufficient. We demand change. OPA did not address the whether the officers could have taken steps to prevent this from happening and, even further, no police officers attempted to render aid to the child making any apology tough to accept.”
“Moreover, the OPA reached its conclusions by analysis and discussion of body camera footage—tapes that were not provided to the family or their legal counsel before today,” the family complained, seemingly not understanding the role of the watchdog group.
“[OPA] also refuses to identify the officers who used force in this incident. All of this undermines the claims of objectivity and transparency that the City purports to value,” the statement read.
Watch the incident unfold in the video below. WARNING – Graphic content and obscene language: