A Seattle teacher has brought a lawsuit against the city of Seattle after he was pepper sprayed in the face by a police officer for no reason whatsoever while walking down the street.
Jesse Hagopian, a history teacher, was attending a peaceful march in Seattle on Martin Luther King Jr. day. He was leaving the event, while speaking with his mother on the phone, when he happened to be passing a police officer who was going nuts. The video shows how Hagopian caught a wash of pepper spray directly in the face.
The cop can be heard yelling “get back! Seattle Police Department,” as people, mostly uninterested and unengaged, walk by minding their own business.
Someone is heard responding “We have a right to walk on the sidewalk.”
“I felt the piercing pain shoot through my eye, my ear drum and my nostril, all over my cheek and face,” Hagopian told local reporters. “I yelled out. My mom was in distress as she heard me yell.”
“The pain that shot through my face only lasted so long,” Hagopian added, “but the painful memory is something that I don’t know when will leave me or my family.”
“(Jesse) was pepper sprayed irrationally by a police officer – no provocation and no reason,” said Hagopian’s attorney, James Bible. “We view this as a challenge to free speech.”
The Seattle Police Department claimed it has not seen the video, despite it being on YouTube, and that it could not comment on the incident.
Other videos that have surfaced from the day also show cops pepper spraying peaceful marchers, seemingly for no reason other than they were publicly gathering.
In an email statement, the Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said the incidents are under investigation.
“We have worked to create and implement a comprehensive and transparent police accountability system that will be the most robust in the nation,” Murray wrote, adding that “Under the accountability system that we’ve set up, the uses of force that occurred during the MLK protests are currently under review and being investigated.”
Seattle police have a history of eagerly reaching for pepper spray. During the Occupy protests, the police department came under scrutiny for wantonly spraying protesters including old Women, priests, pregnant women and blind people.
The substance is brutal, and can be deadly, which is why its use during peaceful protests is in fact outlawed.
As reported by The ACLU, “An Army study concluded that pepper spray’s active ingredient, “is capable of producing carcinogenic effects, sensitization, cardiovascular toxicity, as well as possible human fatalities.”
Police are generally not authorized to use pepper spray except in circumstances in which it is necessary to prevent physical injury to themselves or others. The videos presented above, clearly show that this was not the case.