Officer Ian P. Walsh, 39, was trying to arrest 19-year-old Marilyn Levias for jaywalking on Monday when her 17-year-old friend pushed him. He then punched the young woman in the face. Walsh and Levias had been struggling before her friend pushed him. The entire incident was caught on video, where bystanders can be heard saying “Are you serious?”
The police department’s civilian-led Office of Profession Accountability is investigating Walsh’s actions, Acting Deputy Police Chief Nick Metz said Tuesday. Metz defended Walsh by stating the two women are responsible for not cooperating and resisting arrest. Seattle Police Officers’ Guild’s Rich O’Neill seconds the opinion. “He did nothing wrong,” he said. “I think he was trying to defuse the situation and calm people down.”
“If they had an abrasion or scrape or whatever, oh, well: They should have thought of that when they put their hands on the officer,” he added.
Several community groups feel that the punch was too severe, and mirrored a video taken in April of two Seattle officers kicking a Hispanic suspect.
The 17-year-old was charged with assaulting an officer and released on Tuesday. Levias was arrested on charges of obstructing a police officer. Levias has been arrest before for assaulting a police officer.
Seattle police say that they will review police tactics and training. Walsh has temporarily been re-assigned.
With Associated Press