Today in Fuzz: McGinn backpedals on promise of SPD “review” protest; woman slashed in attempted carjacking; man pepper sprayed in Queen Anne home invasion; and armed man demands crack at Georgetown motel
1) As Erica mentioned, Mayor Mike McGinn apologized to Occupy Seattle protesters in statement this afternoon, saying the city would review officers’ use of pepper spray at last night’s downtown protest, in which an 84-year-old woman was doused with pepper spray.
Except now, according to McGinn’s communications director, it’s not really a special review.
“Last night, the police used pepper spray in two separate incidents, and many are now questioning whether the police use of force was appropriate to the circumstances,” McGinn’s statement said this afternoon, giving the impression that he was taking measures that went above and beyond standard operating procedure. “To those engaged in peaceful protest, I am sorry that you were pepper sprayed.”[pullquote]McGinn’s statement on the SPD’s use of pepper spray at the Occupy Seattle protest gave the impression he was taking measures that went above and beyond standard operating procedure. He is not, his office says. [/pullquote]
Mcginn’s statement said he has “called in Seattle Police Department Chief John Diaz and the command staff to review the actions of last night,” how officers used pepper spray, and whether the protest was adequately staffed with “police resources” and incident commanders.
“Review” certainly is a strong term to use right now when talking about the police department. After all, the SPD is facing down a Department of Justice review of use of force by officers.
And McGinn’s statement certainly reads like an attempt to calm some of the local outrage over video and pictures of police pepper spraying an 84-year-old woman, priest, and pregnant woman at the protests—which has since gone viral—with an apparent promise to again put police tactics under the microscope.
PubliCola has heard that this review isn’t particularly out of the ordinary. Officers’ use of force incidents—like a tasering or pepper spraying—are always reviewed by commanders. One thing SPD could be looking for in their review, however, is whether officers at the protest had been given explicit permission to deploy pepper spray. Police sources tell PubliCola officers are typically not allowed to deploy pepper spray during protests without a go order by a commander, or if the officer feels they’re in danger.
McGinn’s Communication Director Beth Hester contacted PubliCola this evening following our inquiry about the tough talk in the mayor’s statement to put a softer spin on the mayor’s words. “The intention was not to be critical,” Hester says, clarifying that mayor’s statement wasn’t meant to be a condemnation of officers’ actions at Tuesday’s protests.
As to the level of command staff at last night’s Westlake protest that McGinn said he was reviewing, PubliCola has also confirmed that SPD had a sergeant and lieutenant watching over the platoon of bike officers during the event.
When asked if there was any regret over the use of the seemingly harsh language, Hester says “I don’t have, in my mind, a better word,” though she did also refer to it as a “debrief.”
McGinn has not been briefed on what police might have found in their not-review, and according to Hester, no other briefings have been scheduled.
2) A woman told police she was slashed by a man who attempted to carjack and rob her in Pioneer Square last Friday.
According to police, the woman getting into her car at 6th Ave. and Cherry St. around 3:30 pm when a man came up behind her, pushed her into the vehicle, and climbed in beside her.
When the woman began screaming, the man told her to shut up, and said, “I’m going to take your car and your money.”
After the woman tried to poke the suspect in his eyes, he pulled out a knife, slashed her chest, and told her “give me your money or I’ll stab you, I will cut you,” a police report says.
The woman was able to open her car door, slide out of the car, and roll away from the suspect, who demanded the woman hand over her keys.
The suspect eventually got out of the car ran off, chased by a bystander who lost sight of the suspect.
3) A group of young women pepper sprayed a man and stole his camera during a home invasion at a Queen Anne apartment building Saturday.
The victim told police he’d gone home to his apartment on 4th Ave. and W. Republican St. after a night out with friends on lower Queen Anne, and was getting ready for bed when he heard a knock on his front door.
The man looked through the peep hole in the door and saw three young woman, who proceeded to kick in the man’s apartment door.
One of the women then punched the man in the head, before the group went into his room and stole his digital camera. The man grabbed his cell phone and called 911, and chased the women as they fled out of the apartment.
The man told police one of the women turned and pepper sprayed him, before they got into a black Honda and sped off.
The victim told police he had never seen the women before, and wasn’t sure how they got into his supposedly secure building.
4) Also on Saturday, a man armed with a knife forced his way into another man’s motel room in Georgetown, demanded crack, and threatened to kill him.
The victim, who was staying at a motel on E. Marginal Way S. and Ellis Ave. S., heard a knock on his room door around 11:30 pm, and a man armed with a knife barged in and demanded crack cocaine.
When the victim told the man he didn’t have any drugs, the suspect started going through a pair of the victim’s pants, which were lying on a chair in the room.
The suspect took cash, a credit card, and car keys, pulled out a knife, and told the victim “it’s your stuff or your life.” The suspect then sat back down and again asked the victim for crack cocaine.
The suspect eventually got up and walked out of the room and down the street. The victim saw the suspect getting into a car with another man who had “abruptly” checked out of the second Georgetown following the incident, a report says.