A police officer in Tacoma, Washington, has been placed on administrative leave after driving over a crowd of people over the weekend. Two people suffered injuries during the incident and one is currently hospitalized. Their condition remains undisclosed.
(WARNING: The following contains graphic footage of the event:)
The inciting event was a disturbance in downtown Tacoma where a crowd of onlookers and motorists gathered for alleged street racing. The disturbance was first reported on Saturday evening, around 7:00 p.m. local time, after which police were dispatched to the scene. The crowd, gathering to take photographs of cars doing burnouts and doughnuts, blocked access to the intersection of South Ninth and Pacific Avenue, KIRO 7 reports. Video of the crash shows the police vehicle speeding quite quickly through the crowd.
The Tacoma Police Department issued a statement about the incident. It claims the following:
During the operation, a responding Tacoma police vehicle was surrounded by the crowd. People hit the body of the police vehicle and its windows as the officer was stopped in the street. The officer, fearing for his safety, tried to back up, but was unable to do so because of the crowd. The officer had his lights and sirens activated. While trying to extricate himself from an unsafe position, the officer drove forward striking one individual and may have impacted others. The officer stopped at a point of safety and called for medical aid. One person was transported to an area hospital. That person’s condition is, at this time, unknown.
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Later on, that same statement cites Interim Police Chief Mike Are, who said of the event:
I am concerned that our department is experiencing another use of deadly force incident. I send my thoughts to anyone who was injured in tonight’s event, and am committed to our Department’s full cooperation in the independent investigation and to assess the actions of the department’s response during the incident.
A brief subsequent statement from Tacoma PD confirmed that the police officer has been dismissed on paid administrative leave and an investigation is underway.
This marks yet another incident where pedestrian bodies and police cars have had violent encounters. Police ramming into crowds of Black Lives Matter protesters occurred over the summer in New York, Florida and California. While the city’s response to this use of force has been swift, dozens gathered to protest this latest use of a vehicle with deadly force the very next day, NBC 5 reports.