Officer hit with rock, injured during protest speaks out

Officer hit with rock, injured during protest speaks out
Seattle police officer Elyssa Khalife.

SEATTLE — Seattle police Officer Elyssa Khalife is now struggling to get around.

She’ll need surgery to repair her meniscus that was torn during a police brutality protest on Saturday.

“It felt like they were there to hurt us. Their point was to injure officers, and all they were saying was, ‘Take off your riot gear,’” Khalife said.

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SPD reported protesters threw rocks and fireworks and that 21 officers were injured in what the department called a riot.

Khalife said officers were trying not to escalate things when someone blew an 8-inch hole through the wall of the East Precinct.

“That’s when we were like OK, they have explosives. This is dangerous. We’re in the building. We’re the target,” Khalife said.

As officers left the precinct in riot gear and gave dispersal orders, Khalife said protesters threw rocks at them.

One rock hit her leg. She fell sideways, twisting her knee.

“I heard a pop, and I felt it warm up like heat,” Khalife said.

Now she’ll need surgery and will spend weeks off the job she loves.

Although lately, she said, during protests focused on policing, that job has been hard. “It’s been pretty horrible, honestly.”

Khalife comes from Lebanon.

About three years ago, she became an American citizen and then an officer.

With a master’s degree in criminal justice, she’s passionate about reform and serving the Arabic-speaking community.

She’s the first Muslim woman at SPD and one of the few Arabic speakers.

During the protests, she’s faced a lot of questions.

“I’ve had a few encounters where they’re super angry, and they’re saying mean things. And then, after our conversation, they shook my hand and said, ‘Thanks for having this conversation with me. I’m glad to know you’re not a robot,’” Khalife said.

SPD officials said Khalife is among those officers who could be laid off if the police budget cut in half as city council members demand.

Khalife said many recently hired officers are more diverse with better training because they came up while immersed in a culture of reform.