Seattle teacher pepper sprayed at MLK Day protest, files claim (video)

Seattle teacher and author Jesse Hagopian pepper sprayed at the Black Lives Matter rally on  Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Seattle teacher and author Jesse Hagopian pepper sprayed at the Black Lives Matter rally on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. (Provided by James Bible via YouTube screen shot.)

Garfield High School teacher and commentator/author Jesse Hagopian filed a $500,000 claim against the city of Seattle on Wednesday, nine days after being pepper sprayed at a “Black Lives Matter” rally on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, according to The Stranger and KIRO TV, and other reports.

The incident occurred on South Lake Union, shortly after Hagopian delivered a speech to the crowd, according to a press release to the news outlets sent by Hagopian’s attorney, James Bible.

Bible told reporters in the statement that Hagopian had been talking to his mother about being picked up for his son’s birthday party when a Seattle police officer deployed the pepper spray, directly hitting him.

A video posted to YouTube shows Hagopian talking on the phone and walking onto the sidewalk near a line of Seattle police officers on bicycles, with one officer yelling, “Get back! Seattle Police Department!” just before using the spray.

The Seattle Police Department declined statements to KIRO TV and The Stranger, but Seattle Mayor Ed Murray released a statement on Wednesday that Seattle was investigating use-of-force incidents during the MLK Day protests.

“Ingrained in my values – and the values of our city – is ensuring that people are able to protest peacefully to exercise their constitutional right to freedom of expression while providing the resources, support and training necessary for our police department to do their jobs and protect the public’s safety at these protests,” the statement read in part.

1 Comment

  1. From the Seattle police manual:
    10. Officers May Make Individual Decisions to Deploy OC*

    a. Officers Shall Deploy OC for Specific Objectives Consistent With Manual Section 8.100 – Using Force. The authorized use of OC in demonstration situations involving violent activity shall have as a primary objective at least one of the following:

    Defend oneself
    Defend someone else
    Prevent significant destruction of property

    b. OC Will be Directed at the Specific Suspect(s) who are Posing a Threat
    Officers deploying OC will attempt to limit collateral exposure to non-involved parties.
    If there is probable cause to arrest for a crime, it is a priority for officers to arrest individuals against whom OC has been deployed.

    c. Officers Will Provide Aid to Subjects Exposed to Chemical Agents and/or OC, if Feasible
    Officers will request medical response or assistance for subjects exposed to chemical spray and/or OC when they complain of continued effects after having been decontaminated, or they indicate that they have a pre-existing medical condition (e.g. asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, heart ailment, etc) that may be aggravated by chemical spray and/or OC.

    d. Officers Must Document Uses of Force
    Officers shall individually justify and document all reportable uses of force consistent with Manual Section 8.300 – Use-of-Force Reporting and Investigation.…

    * from Wikipedia: Pepper spray, also known as OC spray (from “oleoresin capsicum”), OC gas, and capsicum spray, is a lachrymatory agent (a chemical compound that irritates the eyes to cause tears, pain, and temporary blindness) used in policing, riot control, crowd control, and personal self-defense, including defense against dogs and bears.[1][2] Its inflammatory effects cause the eyes to close, taking away vision. This temporary blindness allows officers to more easily restrain subjects and permits people using pepper spray for self-defense an opportunity to escape. Although considered a less-than-lethal agent, it has been deadly in rare cases, and concerns have been raised about a number of deaths where being pepper sprayed may have been a contributing factor.

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