Yakima, WA – The Yakima Police Department has opened an investigation into an officer’s use of force, after a cell phone video showed him kicking a 17-year-old boy in the buttocks while officers were breaking up a large fight at the Central Washington State Fair (video below).
The incident occurred on Sunday night, when a fight broke out among a group of approximately 15 people, CNN reported.
Four teens were arrested as a result.
A brief cell phone video showed multiple Yakima police officers as they attempted to disperse the unruly crowd, and ordered suspects to get on the ground.
Officer Ian Cole deployed pepper spray, which appeared to hit one of the 17-year-old boys involved in the altercation, The Seattle Times reported.
“Get on the ground, now!” one officer ordered, as the teen walked away rubbing his eyes.
When the boy did not comply, Officer Cole delivered a firm kick, striking the teen in his rear end, the video showed.
The boy stumbled to the ground, but immediately regained his footing and made his way over to another individual.
A moment later, the teen and the second individual got down onto the ground, while officers ordered other passersby to step back.
The video did not capture what occurred prior to the fight breaking out.
“I don’t know if [he] was one of the primary aggressors,” Yakima Police Interim Chief Gary Jones told the Yakima Herald with regards to the teen’s involvement. “That’s something the investigation will determine.”
“The Yakima Police Department has been made aware of a video posting that involves a Yakima Police officer using force while effecting an arrest last night,” Chief Jones said in a press release. “Maintaining public trust is one of our highest priorities, and in doing so, investigators will be collecting all available evidence as it pertains to a use of force review.”
He noted that investigators would rely on more than the video in order to determine what had occurred.
“Police officers are often faced with difficult situations that require immediate assessment of circumstances in order to protect the community and themselves,” he explained.
“Any time you only see a snippet of a video, you’ve got to look at the totality of what was going on — what was going on around the officer,” Chief Jones told the Yakima Herald. “With a very short amount of video, it doesn’t give us all the information.”
The teen’s attorney, Bill Pickett, argued that Officer Cole displayed “abusive and unacceptable conduct,” and said that the family “wants justice,” the Yakima Herald reported.
“They need to know that they are heard, and they need to know that this type of conduct is wrong and they need to know that this is going to stop,” Pickett declared.
Pickett claimed that the fight broke out after teen and his family were “attacked” by a large group of juveniles, The Seattle Times reported.
“He was trying to protect himself and his family,” the lawyer said.
His client was not one of the four teens criminally charged for their roles in the altercation, he added.
Pickett expressed concern about the department’s ability to conduct a fair investigation into Officer Cole’s use of force, and said that a citizen review panel should be implemented instead, The Seattle Times reported.
“What they need is a citizen review panel put together in this community and hold these people accountable when there’s misconduct instead of the police saying, ‘We’ll investigate it ourselves.’ That doesn’t work,” Pickett railed.
Chief Jones said the investigation will follow strict department procedures, and that the review panel will include law enforcement officers from other agencies.
“I want to assure our community that use of force reviews are conducted in an objective, meticulous manner that requires layers of oversight,” the chief explained in the press release.
Officer Cole, a four-year veteran of the department, has been reassigned pending the outcome of the investigation, The Seattle Times reported.
You can watch cell phone footage of the altercation in the video below: