MLK Day Incident Video

Last week, The Stranger posted about an incident on Martin Luther King day, where an SPD officer was hurt — allegedly assaulted by a protester — and several protesters got a stiff taste of OC spray as officers cleared the area on Westlake Avenue.

Leaving aside the problematic deployment of OC spray, it’s interesting to compare the footage to the version of events filed by SPD officer Matt Didier, who is shown repeatedly blasting a protester with OC spray, before crossing the bike line to arrest him.

Didier writes in Seattle Police incident #15-020616,

“I observed 100-150 hostile, yelling people around the downed Officer creating a life safety emergency to the Downed Officer.”

Upwards of a hundred hostile, yelling people around the downed officer? Seems a stretch, but let’s chalk that one up to emotions.

“I observed several officers in physical confrontations with protesters near the
downed officer.”

Several? You mean the moment at 0:07 where a guy gets in officers’ faces and is pushed away? Okay.

“No commands seemed to have any effect on the hostile crowd to move back. We
were ordered by SGT Dyment to form a defensive line around the down officer.
Officers, including myself, continued to give orders to move back to the crowd.
The crowd did not move.”

That’s interesting, because it sure looks to me like the crowd begins backing away the moment the bike units roll in, around 0:19. And they’ve barely been there for five whole seconds before one of them cuts loose with a liberal blast of OC spray.

“Suspect ____ was one of the protesters that did not move back as the defensive perimeter approached. ____ was ordered several times (at least three) by me to move back. ____ did not move.”

“Did not move” is an interesting way to describe somebody who can be seen backing away, from the moment the bike units roll up, to when he goes into full retreat after eating a blast of OC spray. And did Didier give the suspect those three orders to move back in the roughly five seconds before the suspect got sprayed, or afterwards?

Finally, for all his attention to the sort of narrative details that might elude the rest of us, Didier somehow neglects to mention that he deployed his OC spray five times while making the arrest.

The point here is not to challenge every factual stretch in Didier’s narrative, or call him a liar. One might argue that nothing Didier wrote was an outright lie, in and of itself. But taken together, all these embellishments and omissions amount to a pattern of untruthful exaggeration, referred to in the colloquial as “bullshit.”

And police credibility matters. Nothing destroys credibility faster than bullshit. It’ll go a good long way towards restoring public trust in the institution of policing if officers can resist the temptation to deploy it.

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