Seattle Police Chief John Diaz answered questions on KUOW radio this morning in the wake of an incident outside BalMar involving an off-duty police officer who appeared to stomp on the head of a handcuffed suspect — which was caught on video from the responding officer’s patrol car (58 seconds in):
Diaz said it all began when the off-duty officer was assaulted while investigating the apparent theft of his coat. “Officers arrived on the scene. They separated everyone. They saw something that did not look right to them,” he said. “They immediately contacted their supervisor the very next morning. That went to the Office of Police Accountability — the way the system is supposed to work.”
The chief said he saw the video, but didn’t describe his impressions. A statement released a few days ago by Seattle Police said the off-duty officer “made physical contact with one of the three handcuffed subjects.” The investigating officers then separated the off-duty officer from the suspects laying on the ground.
When asked about the rash of recent incidents involving allegations of police overstepping their bounds, Diaz said officers make 500,000 to 600,000 stops a year in Seattle. “I’m putting officers in harms way every day, and I’m telling them we have to get it right 100 percent of the time. That’s what we’re all demanding. That’s what I’m demanding.”
In the Ballard incident, which happened in December but just came to light last week, the off-duty office is identified in court papers (.pdf) as Garth Haynes. He’s been reassigned while a criminal investigation is underway.