SPD officer faces discipline for arrest of man with ice axe

Officer could be suspended.

SEATTLE — A Seattle police officer faces discipline for how he handled the arrest of a man with an ice ax. The incident was captured on body cameras. It was one of the officer's own supervisors who made the complaint for "failure to de-escalate" to the Office of Police Accountability.

According to the police report, the suspect stole the ice ax from REI on Aug. 8, 2017.  Investigators say the man threatened an employee who tried to stop him from leaving the store. Employees called 911 and officers responded.

The entire incident played out as body cameras recorded. The officers found the man walking down the street carrying the ax. At one point the video shows the man holding up the ice ax. Officers can be heard on the video asking him to drop the ice ax, but the man does not comply.  As he walks down the street, officers are heard on camera warning other people to move out of the way. The man keeps walking.

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The video shows a police officer drive up and get out of his vehicle. The officer is identified as Nick Guzley. At one point he rushes in and puts his arms around the suspect, in a bear hug, to get him under control.

The recommendation is for Officer Guzley to be suspended for two days without pay.  The ultimate punishment is up to Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best. Officer Guzley will get to make his case to Chief Best on May 11th.

The suspect, James Ray Smith, 46, was charged with robbery and convicted.

Smith has an extensive criminal history with convictions for burglary, unlawful possession of a firearm, theft, assault and harassment, according to court records. The Department of Corrections says Smith is incarcerated at the Washington Corrections Center.

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