A Tacoma police officer whose SUV was surrounded by a crowd was seen on camera running over a pedestrian Saturday night.
The incident was captured on camera and distributed on social media.
Afterward, an angry group of protesters gathered near where the accident happened.
Tacoma police said dispatchers started receiving calls about 6:20 p.m. about cars and people blocking the intersection of South Ninth and Pacific Avenue. Vehicles were reported to have been doing burnouts and doughnuts.
When police arrived at the scene, a crowd of about 100 people had gathered.
Officers began clearing the intersection.
A Tacoma police officer who arrived in an SUV with its lights and sirens on soon found himself surrounded by people who were banging on the stopped vehicle and its windows in a threatening way.
Tacoma police said that fearing for his safety, the officer tried to back up but was unable to because of the crowd. While trying to leave the unsafe situation, the officer drove forward and hit one person and possibly others, police said.
Tacoma police Officer Wendy Haddow said she believed a man fell under the SUV as it moved forward and was run over.
When the officer got to a safe location, he called for medics. The man was taken to a hospital. Police had originally said the pedestrian had minor injuries but have since said his condition is not known..
Video posted to Twitter showed a person under the police SUV as it drove away.
A second video posted on Twitter showed a car doing doughnuts shortly before an officer arrived. When the police SUV arrived, it appeared to drive through a crowd, knocking several people over, before leaving the area.
KIRO 7 spoke with witnesses who said a group of people were hit by the officer.
“I was shocked, I was shaken, I was confused, I was scared. This officer just ran this group of people over and then fled the scene,” a woman told KIRO 7. “I want justice for the people who just got injured. Squad car 2815 needs to be held accountable.”
In the aftermath of the incident, tensions simmered between police and those still at the scene. Police arrested at least one person and ordered the crowd to disperse.
The Tacoma Police Department has turned the investigation over to the Pierce County Force Investigation Team.
“I am concerned that our department is experiencing another use of deadly force incident,” said Interim Police Chief Mike Ake. “I send my thoughts to anyone who was injured in tonight’s event, and am committed to our Department’s full cooperation in the independent investigation and to assess the actions of the department’s response during the incident.”
On Sunday night, Tacoma police said the officer involved is 58 years old and has been a member of the Tacoma Police Department for more than 29 years.
He was placed on paid administrative leave per department policy.
Things are getting heated near the spot where a @TacomaPD officer is accused of running over a man. Just about 20 ft away, right beyond a road block, a group of angry people are gathered. They're using a bullhorn to yell at the police here. Entire sections of downtown are blocked pic.twitter.com/oa5NIC9ESd— Ryan Simms (@RyanKIRO7) January 24, 2021
.@KIRO7Seattle just interviewed a witness of tonight's incident, where it appears that a @TacomaPD officer ran over a person. She says the person who was hit was injured and could not crawl to the nearby sidewalk. She says the person didn't get medical treatment for 20 mins— Ryan Simms (@RyanKIRO7) January 24, 2021
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