An uproar over a cell phone video that shows a Seattle police officer punching a 17-year-old girl after his attempt to cite her for jaywalking is just one of several recent incidents where low-quality video footage shot by members of the public has incriminated public officials.
The video, which you can watch here (warning: disturbing content), shows a young woman resisting Officer Ian P. Walsh, who was citing the woman and a friend Monday for jaywalking. Her friend attempts to intervene, inserting herself between the officer and her friend and grabbing the officer’s arm. That’s the moment when the officer punches her in the face.
Seattle community leaders are in an uproar, saying the use of force was excessive. Officials with the Seattle Police Department say they have “questions” about the officer’s tactics and are investigating the incident. But Seattle Police Officers Guild President Rich O’Neil says the officer’s use of force was appropriate. The Seattle department announced Wednesday that Walsh has been reassigned pending further inquiries.
The Walsh footage is the latest in a series of incidents catching public figures in questionable — and at times legally suspect — conduct. In one of the more formal such encounters this week, Democratic Rep. Bob Etheridge apologized after the video surfaced of the North Carolina lawmaker reacting angrily to questions from two young men holding a camera. He hit the camera down, roughly grabbed one of the men by the arm and neck, and demanded again and again to know his questioner’s name.