WSP apologizes after video surfaces of trooper saying ‘Don’t kill them, but hit them hard’

Washington State Patrol is apologizing after a now-viral video of a trooper saying, "Don't kill them, but hit them hard” surfaced from Tuesday night’s protest in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Krystal Marx, executive director for Seattle Pride, recorded the video. She was waiting for a package when she got stuck in her office because of the protest. Because of her vantage point, she was directly above where all law enforcement personnel were staging on East Pine.

She said she was terrified when she heard the words. Not for herself, she said, but for the thousands of people who had been protesting peacefully at this point.

“Why is it going this way? I hadn't heard orders to disperse. There was not an order for curfew yet. That didn't come for nearly an hour,” Marx recounted.

It was about 7:45 p.m. Tuesday. In her video, the trooper is motioning with his hands while giving instructions, and walking in between rows of other officers all dressed in riot gear.

“Why do you need that reminder? Of course, don't kill people. That's why they're protesting, so it was really infuriating to hear that,” Marx added.

“Using that language last night, which gives the impression of over -aggression and physicality and hurting people and harming people by law enforcement by intent was totally out of line, totally inappropriate, hurtful, confusing,” said WSP Communications Director Chris Loftis.

Though a poor choice of words, during the protests for George Floyd who was killed by a Minneapolis police who knelt on Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes, causing protesters to accuse police of excessive use of force, Loftis implores the public to understand the context of the situation.

“He was preparing his troops for what would be a physically confrontational situation. He was letting them know there were limits to what we could do,” Loftis said.

Marx, who also happens to be the deputy mayor of Burien, posted the video to her personal Twitter account, which was viewed more than a million times.

For her, WSP’s apology and explanation are not enough.

“I would encourage WSP, any other law enforcement agency, if you are there to protect the peace, keep the peace and to listen and learn from communities that are hurting. Make sure you use your language appropriately,” Marx said.

Loftis said WSP received several complaints about the trooper in the video. He said the agency would examine the incident and determine if any changes or actions must be taken.