Seattle cop punches woman after jaywalking stop

A Seattle Police cruiser, much like the one used by the cop who punches a woman on video.

The recent "cop punches woman" incident outside a Seattle-area high school has brought the spotlight onto police procedure. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Seattle police have had a difficult time in the media the past 12 months, and the latest “cop punches woman” incident doesn’t help matters. Back in November 2009, Deputy Paul Schene was videotaped beating then 15-year-old Malika Calhoun while she was in her jail cell. Schene’s actions prompted a civil rights investigation. Now Seattle Police Officer Ian P. Walsh, 39, has become the subject of a “cop punches woman” viral video. What began as a routine jaywalking stop outside Seattle’s Franklin High School quickly escalated into a situation that required that Walsh restrain 17-year-old Angel Rosenthal. Rosenthal put up significant resistance and Officer Walsh reacted. Yet as numerous media sources indicate, the justification of Walsh’s response – a punch to Rosenthal’s face – has come into question.

Cop punches woman, Seattle Police get the black eye

The jaywalking stop that preceded the “cop punches woman” incident didn’t involve Angel Rosenthal. Officer Ian Walsh had stopped an unnamed 18-year-old male for jaywalking across Martin Luther King Jr. Way South. Rosenthal and her friend, 19-year-old Marilyn Ellen Levias – as well as two other young women – reportedly committed their own act of jaywalking right in from of Officer Walsh while he was addressing the young male. Walsh instructed the females to step over to his vehicle, and at that time, according to police officials, the girls became “verbally antagonistic.”

Once Levias began to walk away, Walsh approached so he could physically escort her back to the scene. Once Levias attempted to escape and began screaming, Walsh attempted to restrain and handcuff her. At this point, Angel Rosenthal interceded, “causing the officer to believe she was attempting to physically affect the first subject’s escape,” reports the New York Daily News. Video footage from the scene shows that as Officer Walsh attempted to restrain Rosenthal, she screamed and pushed as tempers flared. In no time, the media had its “cop punches woman” headline. Both Levias and Rosenthal were taken into custody. They may need money now for bail and legal representation.

The teens had been ordered not to struggle

Officer Ian Walsh’s instructions to not struggle failed to defuse the emotional responses of Levias and Rosenthal, who reportedly both have criminal records. Deputy Chief Nick Metz told Seattle’s King 5 News that while there are “concerns about the tactics the officer used,” the full context leading up to the “cop punches woman” incident must be taken into account in any investigation of Walsh’s adherence to police procedure. Currently, Seattle Police are withholding judgment on Ian Walsh’s actions until a full investigation can be completed by the Office of Professional Accountability, reports the Sky Valley Chronicle. Unfortunately, as the ACLU Washington State branch website suggests, this supposedly independent investigatory committee “lacks teeth” (it’s headed by a civilian auditor, but still a branch of the Seattle Police Department)  and has been largely a waste of expensive man hours for largely perfunctory investigations, according to the ACLU’s estimation.

Ian Walsh ‘did nothing wrong,’ says union president Rich O’Neill

Seattle Police union president Rich O’Neill told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that not only did Officer Ian Walsh not commit wrongdoing, but “he maybe waited a little too long to engage in force” in his attempts to defuse what video footage proves to be a growing dilemma. More news will become available after the police procedure investigation is complete.

Sources:

New York Daily News

Sky Valley Chronicle

ACLU Washington

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