After video of the incident went viral, the Seattle Police Department announced Thursday the officer had been placed on administrative leave. The officer, whose name has not been released, is also under investigation by the King County Sheriff’s Office, at the request of Seattle police, the department said.
The protester has yet to be identified, and his condition following the incident is unclear.
In a statement Thursday, the Seattle Office of Police Accountability, the city’s law enforcement watchdog, noted that a review from the department’s Force Investigation Team found what unfolded in the video to be “potential violations of SPD policy, as well as potential criminal conduct.” The office said it had received more than 30 complaints about the video, and requested a criminal investigation.
The incident, which happened around midnight on Thursday in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, unfolded on a tense night of protests around the nation after a grand jury in Louisville declined to indict officers for the death of Breonna Taylor. In Seattle, multiple officers were injured and 13 people were arrested on charges including property destruction, resisting arrest and failure to disperse. One protester was charged with assault after an officer was struck in the head with a baseball bat, cracking his helmet, police said.
“The SPD is fully committed to the oversight and transparency systems the City has in place,” the police department said in a Thursday news release. “The SPD calls on the community to encourage peaceful protests and conversation, and bring an end to continued destruction and violence.”
Response to the incident comes amid an ongoing political battle in Seattle over proposed police budget cuts. The city council has pushed for 50 percent reduction in the department budget, a plan opposed by Mayor Jenny Durkan (D).
Footage of the incident, filmed by independent journalist C.J. Halliburton, was widely shared, with one video tallying about 3.5 million views as of early Friday. Backlash to the incident was swift.
“@SeattlePD is this how you train your officers?” asked the Twitter user who posted the viral video.
A separate video purportedly shot minutes before the incident showed the protester lying in the street as dozens of bike officers rode past him without stopping. Protesters could be heard coughing from the tear gas and pepper balls fired by police after some demonstrators threw rocks, bottles and fireworks. As a masked protester attempted to help the fallen man, a bike officer yelled at him to return to the sidewalk.
“Hey, get back! Get out of the street now!” the officer said to the masked protester trying to help the man. “Get out of the street!” The officer then appeared to ride off without assisting the man on the ground.
Seattle resident Joey Wieser shot a separate video of the incident, saying there were about 60 officers in tactical gear and roughly 300 protesters in the area once known as the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest zone, or the CHOP. While police continued to move protesters back, Wieser said he was shocked to see a bike roll over the protester’s head and neck.
“Oh my God,” Wieser said in the video. “He just ran over that guy’s head with his bicycle.”