Law & Justice
1:03 pm
Fri February 25, 2011

Video shows Seattle cop stomping on suspect

 

Newly released video shows Seattle Police Officer James Lee stomping on the head of a man detained by a group of cops in city's Belltown neighborhood last October.

KING-TV's Linda Brill reports the incident is bringing further allegations of excessive force by Lee, already under criminal investigation for kicking a teenager in a Belltown convenience store, just minutes before the second confrontation happened.

Brill reports that in this video:

...taken from a police car dash-cam, shows Officer Lee after he leaves the convenience store. Lee is seen standing over a different suspect. As two uniformed officers begin to put on handcuffs, Lee stomps on the suspect's head.

The suspect, Darious Yearby, 20, was held and charged with attempted robbery, along with four other men, and yesterday was acquitted.

Officer Lee was reassigned after the convenience store video surfaced. Seattle Police asked the Washington State Patrol to investigate his actions. It is a criminal investigation.

Brill reports this new video may prompt the State Patrol to widen its scope in the investigation of Lee, a 12-year veteran. 

Both men who were kicked by Lee have been acquitted of the charges against them, according to The Seattle Times' Jennifer Sullivan.

One man was convicted of 3rd degree assault of Lee's fellow officer Raul Vaca, who was working the undercover sting that night. Still, Sullivan reports the lawyer for one of the accused says changes in law enforcement are needed:

"The Seattle Police Department is going to have to re-evaluate what exactly it does," said James Bible, defense attorney for Yearby and the president of the Seattle and King County branch of the NAACP.

 

Feds Review Seattle Cases, as They Mount

The ACLU of Washington and other civic leaders recently asked the Justice Department to review a number of violent encounters between Seattle Police and the city's minority communities, partially prompted by the cases involving Lee. That review has begun.  The killing of First Nations woodcarver John T. Williams, the subsequent inquest, and decision not to charge the Seattle officer involved brought angry protests last week. 

As KPLU's Paula Wissel reported, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn took on the Seattle police officer's union last week during his State of the City address, saying:

The union has a responsibility to step up and be part of the solution. They owe it to their members.

Prior to yesterday's acquittal of the suspects involved in the October 18th events, police union leader Rich O'Neill told The Seattle Times:

"The youth involved should receive counseling for life skills other than selling narcotics downtown and running from the police," O'Neill said before Thursday's verdict.

Their lawyers contend their clients were assaulted by overly aggressive police practices that night.