OPA clears Seattle police officers in use-of-force claim from dismantling of CHOP

SEATTLE — The Office of Police Accountability says Seattle officers acted appropriately when they used a baton to arrest two protesters earlier this year.

A man and a woman refused to leave the Capitol Hill Protest Zone as officers cleared it out last July.

There is still evidence of that police operation more than four months ago—the concrete barrier, the fencing atop that.

All of it is a reminder of the abandonment, then retaking of the East Precinct by Seattle police.

Now one case from that July day has been decided in SPD’s favor.

The Office of Police Accountability released body camera video that they said strongly influenced their decision.

KIRO 7 cameras were there, too, as a swarm of officers moved into the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest, or CHOP, zone to remove protesters who had decamped there for weeks.

Seattle police officers can be heard on the video ordering the crowd to disperse.

Two protesters, a man and a woman, refused and began approaching the officers instead.

“Move back,” the officers chanted. “Move back.”

Then, an officer used a baton to stop them.

“They are giving lawful orders to disperse, and apparently ... that couple didn’t,” said Jim Fuda, director of law enforcement services for CrimeStoppers and a former King County deputy sheriff.

Fuda agreed to watch the video.

“That’s a tactic to use the baton to push out rather than put hands on people,” he said.

But the woman said the officer’s baton left her with a bloody lip and a chipped tooth.

OPA slowed down the footage to examine the moment the baton was used. They concluded that she pushed the other protester toward police, and that his elbow likely struck her, not the baton.

OPA concluded that the officers' actions were within standard protocol. They rendered the complaint, “not sustained.”

“I think they made the right call,” Fuda said. “Not sustained.”

The man and woman were arrested. According to OPA’s written report, the case is considered closed.