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Police: Officer under review after punching incident caught on camera

By Gabriel Falcon, CNN
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Jaywalking arrest takes violent turn
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Officer did nothing wrong, officers guild says
  • NEW: "He was defending himself," union president says
  • Incident referred to Office of Professional Accountability
RELATED TOPICS
  • Seattle

(CNN) -- A Seattle, Washington, police officer who was caught on video punching an alleged jaywalker did nothing wrong, the Seattle Police Officers Guild said.

Seattle police are reviewing the incident, which was caught on a witness's cell phone camera, a department spokesman said.

Police officials originally said that Officer Ian Walsh had been sent to a training unit to review police tactics, but later said that the officer was not reassigned, Detective Mark Jamieson told CNN.

Walsh, who joined the force in November 2007, has not been disciplined in the Monday incident, which remains under investigation, Jamieson said. The event has been referred to the department's Office of Professional Accountability for review, he said.

"The officer did nothing wrong. We always will review incidents like this, that's how police officers learn," Sgt. Rich O'Neill, president of the Seattle Police Officer's Guild, told CNN. "I am confident that the review will show that the officer was totally justified. He was defending himself."

According to a police statement, Walsh was on patrol and in uniform Monday afternoon when he stopped a young man for jaywalking.

While interacting with the man, Walsh observed four women jaywalking at the same location and ordered them to step over to his cruiser, police said. The department described the women as being "verbally antagonistic toward the officer."

One of the women began to walk away and appeared to raise her hand in a dismissive gesture after being ordered to step over to the car, police said.

Walsh escorted the woman back to the cruiser, but she then started to yell at him and pull away, "breaking free of the officer's grip several times," police said.

When the officer tried to handcuff the woman, another woman placed her hands on the officer's arm, police said. "The officer pushed the second subject back, but she again came at the officer, at which time he punched her," police said.

O'Neill forcefully defended Walsh's actions.

"The focus needs to be on the two individuals," O'Neill said. "If you watch the entire video, he is trying to de-escalate the situation, first by voice commands, then by taking her by the wrists, and then she reacts by pulling away and swinging.

"My critique is that he could have used more force and taken the girl to the ground," O'Neill said. "He could have grabbed her, it's called a leg sweep, handcuffed her and it would have been over a lot faster, but when you take someone to the ground you risk more injury."

The 19-year-old woman who allegedly grabbed Walsh's arm was booked for investigation of assault on an officer, police said. The other woman, who police said was 17, was booked for obstructing an officer. Both suspects were also cited for jaywalking.

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