Seattle police have arrested a motorist who drove into the middle of a protest Sunday evening and shot one of the demonstrators who can be seen in at least one video apparently grappling with the driver just before the shot is fired.
The driver, clad in a black hoodie, exited the car with a handgun in his right hand. Several other people quickly scattered, though no other shots appear to have been fired. The driver apparently acted alone and police recovered his gun. Videos of the incident have raced across social media and are being used by local Seattle-area media.
The incident came after days of protests that have often turned disruptive after darkness falls on the city, with police under heavy criticism for using tear gas and other crowd control methods to keep demonstrators away from a precinct building.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has announced several policy changes that, according to KING 5 News—the NBC affiliate in Seattle—will “hold police accountable and protect peaceful protesters after more than a week of confrontations in the city.” KING listed the policy changes Monday:
- An emergency order to the City Council that would require officers turn on body cameras during protests.
- A directive to all Seattle officers requiring their badge number is visible to the public.
- An agreement with the city attorney to withdraw the city’s filing to end the two-year sustainment period of police reform connected to the federal consent decree and re-examine use of force and crowd control policies.
- Request independent committees and Department of Justice to examine the city’s current crowd control policies, including tactics, use of chemicals, and de-escalation techniques.
- Have Seattle police update policies based on concerns raised by the community and the 2016 Campaign Zero National policy survey in the coming week to reflect best practices for use of force.
- Asking an independent prosecutor at the state level to investigate and prosecute officers’ use of deadly force.
- Scaling back the presence of the National Guard during protests.
- Ensure no peaceful protester will be charged.
- Redirect at least $100 million to further invest in community-based programs focused on black youth and adults, including employment programs, businesses, and programs that provide alternatives to arrest and incarcerate.
Law enforcement across the country is under a microscope in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. He died while being held down by a police officer’s knee across his neck for more than eight minutes. Floyd was handcuffed at the time. That officer and three others were fired and all now face criminal charges.
But for protesters around the country, the wheels of justice for which they are clamoring seem to be turning slower than they’d like. Demonstrations have continued in several major cities for more than a week. Even in Seattle, police have still used flash bangs and pepper spray to control crowds.
The 27-year-old victim in Sunday evening’s shooting was taken to Harborview Medical Center and is expected to recover.
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