A criminal investigation in Seattle is underway after a police officer was captured on video appearing to roll over a person’s head with his bike during a protest early Thursday morning in the wake of the Breonna Taylor grand jury decision, officials said.
In a statement Thursday, the Seattle Office of Police Accountability, or OPA, said police investigators responded to the incident shortly before 3 a.m. and referred the case to the OPA after identifying potential violations of police department policy and criminal conduct.
After conducting interviews and reviewing a video of the incident, which took place in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, the OPA asked the King County Sheriff's Office to launch a criminal investigation.
The OPA is independent and investigates cases of potential police misconduct.
The Seattle Police Department said in a statement that the officer, who has not been identified, has been placed on administrative leave.
In an earlier statement, the department said that officers used tear gas and pepper balls after some in the crowd hurled rocks, bottles and an explosive toward officers on Wednesday night. Multiple officers were injured, the department said, including one whose helmet was allegedly cracked with a baseball bat.
Just before midnight, police ordered protesters to disperse. Roughly 15 minutes later, officers declared the protest unlawful.
At 1:30 a.m., the man who recorded the incident, Joey Wieser, said that roughly 300 protesters remained in an area once home to what was known as the city's “Capital Hill organized protest zone,” or CHOP. The commune-like area was occupied by protesters after police abandoned the East Precinct in early June and it remained there until July 1, when authorities cleared the space under orders from Mayor Jenny Durkan.
In the video, Wieser said that 60 officers in tactical gear began advancing on those who remained on Capitol Hill. Moments later, as several police officers on bikes began riding down the street, an officer can be seen appearing to walk his bike over the head of a person lying on the ground.
“He just ran over his head,” Weiser can be heard shouting. “Oh my God. Oh my God.”
The person’s condition wasn’t immediately clear.
The Seattle Police Department said that 13 people were arrested on charges of property destruction, resisting arrest, assault on an officer and failure to disperse.
The protests came hours after authorities in Kentucky announced one of the police officers involved in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor in her Louisville home in March was indicted by a grand jury and charged with wanton endangerment, but none of the officers — including the one whose shot killed Taylor — faced charges for her death.
Mostly peaceful protests erupted in cities around the country on Wednesday, though 127 people were arrested in Louisville, where Taylor lived, authorities said.
One suspect, Larynzo D. Johnson, was arrested on suspicion of shooting two police officers near the protest.