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Friday, January 4, 2013

Another Instance of Unnecessary Escalation by SPD Officers?

Posted by on Fri, Jan 4, 2013 at 12:25 PM

Seattle lawyer James Egan released a police dashcam video today of a 2010 incident that he says illustrates another instance of unnecessary escalation by Seattle officers. The video appears to show one officer repeatedly punching a nonwhite suspect in the face. I haven't watched the entire thing (it's 42 minutes long) but here's the setup:

A man, Isaac Ocak, parks his car—locked but running—along a strip mall curb while he returns some baby clothes. He returns a few minutes later to see several police officers surrounding his vehicle. We see Ocak with his hands on the hood of a patrol car, explaining the situation to officers. Ocak is polite, calling officers "sir," but gets more agitated and upset as officers grill him about the number of keys on his key chain, and whether he had permission to drive his girlfriend's vehicle.

Shortly after the 6:00-minute mark Ocak is tackled on the hood of the car by three officers. As the officers attempt to handcuff him, one officer puts a hand on his face, then shouts, "Don’t you bite me you son of a bitch!” and then appears to punch him multiple times in the face:

Egan says that Ocak was "reasonably frustrated at a lengthy detention for what was not a crime or an infraction, but a 'suspicious' vehicle the officers had resolved by questioning him."

The Seattle Police Department is holding an afternoon presser to respond to the video.

UPDATE: I couldn't make yesterday's SPD presser, but here's the Seattle Times write up:

The Seattle Police Department opened an internal investigation Friday into the 2010 arrest of a 20-year-old man who was punched by an officer after police stopped to question him about leaving his car running outside a store.

Sgt. Sean Whitcomb said the department already has reviewed the incident twice, with the officer's commanders and an assistant chief concluding no violations of law or department policy occurred when four officers took Isaac Ocak to the pavement after learning he had a prior felony conviction and had been tagged in the department's computer as being "assaultive to officers." However, the department could not provide an incident in which Ocak had ever been so.


Comments (44) RSS

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Bonefish 50
46: Not really. If you stick your hand in a person's mouth against their will, they will instinctively try to close their mouth. If you already have a finger in, that finger will get bit in the process. It's not a calculated act on the part of the biter and it's irrelevant how peaceful and law-abiding they are; it's a knee-jerk reaction, and any cop worth his salt should know this. If that cop has an injured finger then it's his own damn fault for suddenly jamming that finger into somebody's mouth: all the authority in the world won't stop that from resulting in a bite.

Speaking of knee-jerk reactions: when cops are being trained, are they made aware of how people tend to naturally tense up when they're being grabbed and thrown around? I understand that someone is resisting arrest if they actually fight or if they continue making things difficult over several minutes. But tensing up at the first moment of being grabbed, slammed, and tossed around isn't "resisting arrest;" it's just "having reflexes." Too many cops use that as a basis to immediately get even rougher.
Posted by Bonefish on January 7, 2013 at 2:48 PM · Report this
doloresdaphne 48
I couldn't say whether he bit the cop or not (I watched it several times) but given that the cop put his fingers across the guy's teeth whilst violently pulling his head back - I can't imagine reacting rationally to such a thing (i.e. refraining from blighting) would be necessarily possible.

Whether the blonde cop was a bully to begin with, or if he's been damaged from too many bad experiences on the beat, he seems to be projecting onto this innocent guy and really should hand his badge in.
Posted by doloresdaphne on January 5, 2013 at 1:08 AM · Report this
@5 -- he's never pulled out of camera range. The police car behind the suspect's car most likely captured the entire event.

Egan didn't release that video to Slog and/or Slog didn't publish it.
Posted by six shooter on January 4, 2013 at 8:05 PM · Report this
@45 and all others questioning the biting --

You understand, of course, that a police report containing a photo of the injury to the police officer's hand exists somewhere. Some form of medical clearance exists allowing the police officer to return to duty.

If the police officer has bite marks on his hand, does your opinion in this matter change?
Posted by six shooter on January 4, 2013 at 8:00 PM · Report this
Sandiai 45
There was no biting. I looked at it several times. His jaw didn't move at all when the cop put his hand over his upper lip and nose. That cop is a liar and a bully, picking on someone smaller and outnumbered, with all the authority of the law behind him, and then trying blame the victim for his own abuse.
Posted by Sandiai on January 4, 2013 at 6:43 PM · Report this
"Keys and Hand Talking". Yes, he should have kept his hands on the hood. But, it seems to me to be an extra long time that they question him while asking to keep his hands on the hood, Anytime I have been in that position, I get searched, pronouced 'safe' then its Q&A time. But then again, I am a middle aged white guy.I have yet to figure out the criminal angle of having too many keys. At a bare minimum, our lives requires 5 keys (at least mine) 1 to get into my building, A second to open my apartment door, a third to check my mailbox, #4.. the door key to my automobile, and the Grand finale..#5 for the ignition. CRAP! I have a locking gas cap. #6. Double Crap!! I am a good friend and neighbor, so I have 2 of my friend's spare keys 7 and 8. SHITFUCKMYLIFE..i forgot the key to my gf's place and my ex's place too...cause well you know a lil ex-sex here and there doesn't hurt. I'll just wait for the po-po to come haul me to jail.
Posted by The Edsel on January 4, 2013 at 6:38 PM · Report this
JonnoN 43
Police reform will be pretty much the only criteria I use to pick our next mayor.
Posted by JonnoN on January 4, 2013 at 6:20 PM · Report this
Is it just me or do a lot of cops just automatically shout "STOP RESISTING" any time they come into contact with another human on camera?
Posted by beef rallard on January 4, 2013 at 5:35 PM · Report this
I agree with 35, looked like the cop grabbed him right across the teeth. I'd think it would be physically close to impossible to bite down hard with your head jerked back at that angle...any biting looked incidental and reflexive.

The way they were twisting his head and grabbing him across the throat...this is a problem I have with police tactics: they put your body in an extreme, close-to-breaking position, then wonder why people don't obey their commands to "relax." I've done some martial arts and grappling training, and to me it is physically quite difficult to relax when someone, say, has your arm 1/2" short of being dislocated at the elbow. You naturally want to pull your arm in to take off the stress. Then the cops can say you are "resisting."
Posted by Adversary on January 4, 2013 at 4:17 PM · Report this

I agree, violence is violence. Unions shouldn't (and officially don't) support it, and to those who want to fight violence should focus on the violent individuals instead of attacking unions.
Posted by robotslave on January 4, 2013 at 4:05 PM · Report this
wisepunk 38
@34 he couldn't write a ticket, the car wasn't on a public roadway.
Posted by wisepunk on January 4, 2013 at 3:52 PM · Report this
pdonahue 37
Hey 36, the difference between ILWU members who act like assholes and SPOG members is that the longshoremen's flaws are personal and the cops flaws are professional. It's their JOB to deal with difficult human situations all day, if they can't handle it they should unload ships for a living.
Posted by pdonahue on January 4, 2013 at 3:50 PM · Report this

Members of the longshoremen and the teamsters were physically intimidating and engaging Occupy participants at meetings as recently as a year ago, during the grain terminal conflict, and there were also reports of physical intimidation against members of management (denied, sensibly, by union officials).

I am also extremely skeptical of that "only against property" distinction, when political property damage is almost always perceived (and often enough, intended) as an act of intimidation, as a threat against people, not just things.
Posted by robotslave on January 4, 2013 at 3:11 PM · Report this
hahaha he didnt bite him. the cop put his hand in the guys mouth. wtf?
Posted by bunkasauras on January 4, 2013 at 3:03 PM · Report this
Pithy Name 34
@30 - So, write the guy a ticket?
Posted by Pithy Name on January 4, 2013 at 2:58 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 33
What did that guy do to get that police treatment? Will the police say what he did at the conference? Maybe he's the guy that stole your car.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on January 4, 2013 at 2:57 PM · Report this
TheMisanthrope 32
Also, my point isn't that the cops are innocent. My point is that James Egan is a Liar.
Posted by TheMisanthrope on January 4, 2013 at 2:55 PM · Report this
My point, such as it was, is that mounting an attack on the police union is not going to help reduce violence, and might even be counterproductive.

If you want to reform the department, you're going to have to find a way to condemn violent officers without condemning them for being cops. There's got to be a way forward here; it's not like the union is going to officially assert the right of police officers to beat the fuck out of anyone who pisses them off.
Posted by robotslave on January 4, 2013 at 2:55 PM · Report this
TheMisanthrope 30
Wait, was the car illegally parked? Or not?

And, if it was, that is at minimum an infraction.

And, why the hell would you leave the car running if you weren't parking illegally? Also, does it really only take a few minutes to buy some baby clothes? Probably 10 minutes at minimum. Regardless, is there any amount of time that is acceptable to illegally park and abandon your vehicle?
Posted by TheMisanthrope on January 4, 2013 at 2:54 PM · Report this
Ricist Gestapo. Something tells me this would never happen to someone with blond hair, blue eyes and light skin.
Posted by Rocky Mountain Ben on January 4, 2013 at 2:49 PM · Report this
@21 Give some recent examples, less than ten years old. I honestly haven't kept up with most labor politics news, so if there's a glaring incident of actual (human-on-human, not human-on-property) violence that slog is selectively ignoring, remind us of it.
Posted by sahara29 on January 4, 2013 at 2:47 PM · Report this
I wonder which Mayoral candidate will call for a new SPD Chief, public oversight of the SPD with teeth, reform of the SPOG contract, steroid testing, and require SPD to have a real internal affairs department? Progressives shouldn't support any candidate not without a real SPD reform agenda.
Posted by Meinert on January 4, 2013 at 2:41 PM · Report this
Pithy Name 25
Not to completely derail the conversation (but to completely derail the conversation) I thought union "thugs" were tough because businesses used the police and their own hired union busters to beat the crap out of protesting members.
Posted by Pithy Name on January 4, 2013 at 2:40 PM · Report this

Paul, I was thinking more of the violence that labor union members have historically engaged in, and been lauded and condemned for by turns.

I'm sure you're well aware that the blue-collar unions have a reputation for being "tough" in the physical, personal sense in addition to the collective-bargaining sense, and that there are people on the left who celebrate their "toughness" in precisely this brawling, slobber-knocker, and yes, violent sense of the word.
Posted by robotslave on January 4, 2013 at 2:36 PM · Report this
Paul Constant 23
@21: Like when that Fox News asshole got hit after relentlessly badgering those "union thugs" for a while? Is that the bullshit non-event union "violence" you're thinking of?
Posted by Paul Constant http:// on January 4, 2013 at 2:24 PM · Report this

No, but it does cost them an awful lot to train their replacements, fight any wrongful termination lawsuits, pay overtime to officers who do the work while others are being trained, etc...
Posted by robotslave on January 4, 2013 at 2:17 PM · Report this

When members of non-police unions "beat the fuck out of people," it doesn't seem to motivate any SLOG commenters to advocate busting up the stevedores or the teamsters.
Posted by robotslave on January 4, 2013 at 2:14 PM · Report this
Former Lurker 20
Doesn't cost the city a penny to fire officers who abuse people with unnecessary force.
Posted by Former Lurker on January 4, 2013 at 2:10 PM · Report this
@18 sorry, I was wrong, by "act" I meant "beat the fuck out of people."
Posted by sahara29 on January 4, 2013 at 1:59 PM · Report this
@17 Unions, like any organization constructed by humans, can be in the wrong sometimes too. The SPD union is good when it is advocating for the rights of its members to have a safe workplace, and in the wrong when it advocates for the rights of its members to act without any oversight from the public.
Posted by sahara29 on January 4, 2013 at 1:58 PM · Report this

Nice to see a little spirited union-busting sentiment at SLOG.

"Solidarity" is reserved only for the Right Sort of People, no?
Posted by robotslave on January 4, 2013 at 1:50 PM · Report this
Kinison 16
Watching this video makes me angry, but not enough to join an occupy protest.

Cops were dicks, but he really should have kept his hands on the hood of the car.
Posted by Kinison on January 4, 2013 at 1:48 PM · Report this
Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In 15
The next Mayor of Seattle, if he wants to leave a lasting legacy for Seattle, should ignore pretty much everything besides breaking the power of the SPOG & SPD. If not, he'll be just another place holder like McGinn.

oh, and 8, "I'm not blaming the victim here," Yes, you are.
Posted by Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In on January 4, 2013 at 1:36 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 14
If you have too many keys on your keychain, you might take up woodcarving, donchaknow ...
Posted by Will in Seattle on January 4, 2013 at 1:29 PM · Report this
Knat 13
This guy was being at least as polite as I was when I had to receive my Freedom Grope at Sea-Tac. I can't imagine I would have behaved much differently in his position.
Posted by Knat on January 4, 2013 at 1:28 PM · Report this
wisepunk 12
No seriously, since there is a press conference, can you ask how many keys are acceptable on a key chain in Seattle? I would like this cleared up so I am in compliance with officer littledicks code of justice.
Posted by wisepunk on January 4, 2013 at 1:26 PM · Report this
Rotten666 10
I would have been punched much sooner as I would have told the sanctimonious pig to go fuck himself a few minutes earlier than this guy did.

Typical bully, give an inch, they take a mile. I'm willing to bet if this guy wasn't so docile from the onset the pig would have backed off.
Posted by Rotten666 on January 4, 2013 at 1:24 PM · Report this
meanie 9
I swear I just read something about cops being the only ones trained and equipped to carry weapons.
Posted by meanie on January 4, 2013 at 1:07 PM · Report this
I'm not blaming the victim here, but he really shouldn't have been saying anything in this scenario except "Am I free to go or am I being detained/arrested". It's hard as fuck to do with the cop pressuring you but everything he says in the video is either not helping or is actually hurting him and giving the cops "suspicions" that they can point at when they justify the extended stop.
Posted by chrisgreen on January 4, 2013 at 1:04 PM · Report this
wisepunk 7
I didn't know that being a police officer also came with the right to lecture people on how they live. Too many keys on your keychain? That's a hangin' offence in Seattle.
Posted by wisepunk on January 4, 2013 at 1:02 PM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 5
Why was he dragged out of view of the cameras?
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on January 4, 2013 at 12:54 PM · Report this
"...on video you retard" at 8:40 is a classy and infuriating thing to hear police say...
Posted by whothefuckisthis on January 4, 2013 at 12:50 PM · Report this
You'd think that after getting burned by Egan's last tactical press release, The Stranger would show a little more caution-- or at least mention the fact that Egan routinely tries to enlist the press in the police misconduct cases he's hired to pursue.
Posted by robotslave on January 4, 2013 at 12:46 PM · Report this
kitschnsync 1
Egan's an interesting character. Seattle Weekly ran a great story by Nina Shapiro which profiles him this week.
Posted by kitschnsync on January 4, 2013 at 12:37 PM · Report this

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