One Seattle police offer was struck in the head with a metal baseball bat, as others dodged explosives and made 13 arrests during demonstrations that broke out in the city, as well as in other areas across the country, following a grand jury decision in Louisville, Ky. related to Breonna Taylor’s case.
Police deployed pepper spray after demonstrators tossed explosives at bike officers and security camera wires at a police precinct.
The Seattle Police Department began monitoring a protest that broke out in Cal Anderson Park at around 7 p.m. Wednesday – the space previously declared an autonomous zone and occupied by demonstrators this summer in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis while in police custody.
Police said the crowd began marching through the Capitol Hill district and First Hill, causing occasional property damage along the way, before regrouping in the intersection of 11th Avenue and Pine Street.
According to a police press release, a “protester” approached the East Precinct around 10:45 p.m. and “threw an explosive that went through a roll-up gate and exploded near waiting bike officers. A few minutes later, additional people cut wires powering the security cameras to the precinct.”
The East Precinct, which previously fell within the occupied protest zone, was the site of controversy over the summer after officers pulled back from the building, and demonstrators seized the precinct, using it as their most powerful bargaining chip for weeks before the city reclaimed the Capitol Hill blocks.
Mayor Jenny Durkan has faced criticism for allowing property damage and other crime to carry on in the barricaded encampment declared a “no cop, co-op” for weeks before several fatal shootings prompted Seattle police to once again move in and clear the area.
Police said bike officers identified the individual who threw the explosive Wednesday and attempted to arrest the person but they were assaulted with bottles and rocks. The release said police deployed pepper spray and blast balls “in an attempt to create space between the officers and the protestors.”
Demonstrators again moved through the streets, setting dumpsters on fire and throwing explosives at officers. In total, officers arrested 13 individuals for charges ranging from property destruction, resisting arrest, and failure to disperse as well as the assault on an officer.
Multiple officers were injured, including one who was struck in the head with a baseball bat, which cracked his helmet. Police released photos showing the cracked helmet and other clashes between officers and demonstrators.
The department also acknowledged a video circulating on social media purportedly showing a Seattle police “bike officer’s bike rolling over the head of an individual lying in the street.”
“This matter will be referred to the Office of Police Accountability for further investigation,” the release said, without elaborating further.
Major metropolitan cities across the country saw protests and demonstrations after a grand jury in Jefferson County in Kentucky decided Wednesday to indict one officer involved in the police operation that killed Taylor in Louisville on March 13.
Brett Hankison, who was fired from Louisville Metro Police in June, was indicted on three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree for firing rounds into Taylor’s neighbor’s apartment, endangering the lives of three residents who were home at the time. He was not charged in connection to Taylor's death.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said his office would not pursue criminal charges against the other two officers involved in the operation. Officer Myles Cosgrove and Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, who was shot in the leg during the raid, were justified under Kentucky state law in their use of force since they were fired upon by Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, Cameron said.
FBI ballistics determined that Cosgrove fired the fatal shot that killed Taylor. After the decision was announced Wednesday, two Louisville police officers were shot during protests, and a suspect was taken into custody and charged with assault and wanton endangerment.