January 25, 2013 at 11:02 AM
Hit-and-run charge refiled against man at center of SPD internal probe
The Seattle City Attorney’s Office has refiled a hit-and-run charge against a man whose rough arrest by a Seattle police officer has prompted a review by the department’s Office of Professional Accountability (OPA).
The City Attorney’s Office also filed a charge of third-degree driving with a suspended license against the man, Leo M. Etherly.
Etherly was initially charged with hit-and-run driving for allegedly striking a female bicyclist and assault for spitting on officers who detained him in connection with an Oct. 6 incident in the Central Area. However, an SPD detective asked that the misdemeanor charges be dismissed and that the King County Prosecutor’s Office consider felony charges. The county declined, at which point the City Attorney’s Office began further investigation.
The assault charge against Etherly was not refiled because the City Attorney’s Office did not believe a jury would return a guilty verdict against Etherly, according to a news release.
The OPA began the review of the incident, which was captured on dash-cam video, after an officer put his hands on Etherly’s throat and face, then punched him twice after Etherly resisted being handcuffed, police said. On the video, it appears that Etherly spits on one of the officers.
Seattle police held a news conference in November to show the footage of the Oct. 6 incident. At the time, Sgt. Sean Whitcomb told reporters the officer’s use of force raised concerns with the officer’s acting captain, who referred the incident to OPA investigators within days of Etherly’s arrest.
On Friday, police spokesman Mark Jamieson said the case is still under investigation by the OPA.
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The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and edited by Assistant Metro Editor Nick Provenza.
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