FILE - Seattle Police

Seattle police in riot gear face protesters.

(The Center Square) — More than 110 days after protests against police brutality began in Seattle, the city's Office of Police Accountability on Friday released five completed reports of alleged misconduct by police officers.

According to the OPA, the five reports are among 118 cases of alleged misconduct by Seattle Police Department officers pending review. Those cases are based on 19,000 complaints sent to the city since May 30, the OPA reported.

One case from May 30 involved an officer allegedly kneeling on the necks of two demonstrators while making an arrest downtown.

SPD policy, OPA Director Andrew Myerberg wrote in his conclusion, defines a prohibited neck restraint as deliberately applying pressure to a person’s neck for the purpose of “controlling a subject’s movement or rendering a subject unconscious.”

Based on video evidence, he found, the officer appeared to be kneeling on the neck of one protester and the head of the other.

Myerberg added that the neck restraint performed by the officer was “not proportional or necessary, because even if inadvertent, the risk of harm is pretty substantial.”

However, he concluded that the accused officer could not be found guilty of intentionally violating the SPD’s use of force policy as the neck restraint performed was just 13 seconds long.

Myerberg’s report compared this use of force to the eight minutes and 46 seconds Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck on May 25.

The OPA concluded that the officer had unintentionally violated the department’s use of force policy, but did sustain a complaint that they threatened and cursed at protesters.

Another case involved an officer who allegedly pepper-sprayed a father and his 7-year-old child that same day.

In his conclusion, Myerberg wrote that there was not sufficient evidence that the accused officer intended to spray the man’s child.

According to the director, body camera footage and officer testimonies found the man and his child were standing behind a woman who was attempting to take an officer’s baton when they were pepper-sprayed by the officer. The OPA report did not include testimony from either the child, the father, or their legal counsel.

Myerberg wrote that the accused officer is likely to avoid criminal prosecution based on the evidence included in the OPA’s report.

Seattle City Council has been long embroiled in legal battles over the use of crowd control munitions by SPD officers. This summer, the U.S. Justice Department won a temporary restraining order preserving officers’ right to use tear gas in declared riots despite a ban on the practice from council members. 

In two more cases, the OPA declined to sustain allegations against one officer for violently pushing protesters back with batons and another officer for acing with homophobic bias.

Neither officers will face disciplinary action, Myerberg wrote, upon review of relevant body cam footage.

The SPD faces many other high-profile lawsuits from activist and protest groups, which include numerous instances of alleged brutality by officers.

The OPA announced it will regularly update its public database of completed investigations concerning police misconduct during protests. The next update is slated for Friday, October 2.

Staff Reporter

Tim Gruver is a politics and public policy reporter. He is a University of Washington alum and the recipient of the 2017 Pioneer News Award for Reporting. His work has appeared in Politico, the Kitsap Daily News, and the Northwest Asian Weekly.