Amid calls to fire officer over pepper spray incident, SPD chief calls her ‘a good cop'

by: Nick McGurk Updated:

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SEATTLE - Activists called for a Seattle police officer to be fired Thursday for pepper-spraying a man while he was on the phone during a January protest.
 
The incident happened in January.

When Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole went before the City Council Thursday to ask for more money for the police, many council members asked her why the officer had only been given a “reprimand.”
The man who was pepper-sprayed is Jesse Hagopian, a prominent teacher and activist.

"The searing pain is difficult to get out of my head,” Hagopian said.

He had just given a speech during a Martin Luther King Day rally in January, when he says his mother called about his 2-year-old son's birthday party.
 
As he was walking past bike officers, video shows officer Sandra Delafuente pepper-spraying him while he was on the phone.
 
"I think that officer Delafuente should be fired,” said Chris Mobley, an activist and supporter of Hagopian’s.

(Warning: Graphic language in full video)     

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Before she even had a chance to brief the council about the Police Department's budget, O'Toole was asked about Delafuente's punishment.
 
She said Delafuente is a good cop who made a bad mistake — and admitted to it right away.
 
"Mr. Hagopian was pepper-sprayed, nobody is denying that,” said O’Toole.
 
"I do not hesitate to fire police officers who I do not believe belong on the police department,” she added.
 
The Office of Professional Accountability found Delafuente used unauthorized force.

O'Toole agreed and gave Delafuente a "recorded" reprimand.
 
"I really agonize over these decisions,” O’Toole said.
 
Hagopian’s supporters want Delafuente fired.
 
"The response by Chief O'Toole is incredibly inadequate,” Mobley said.
 
Earlier this year, Hagopian's attorney filed a $500,000 claim against the city.
 
A representative for the city attorney’s office told KIRO 7 that settlement is always a possibility.

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