A 24-year-old South Seattle woman was charged last week with third-degree assault for allegedly spitting in the face of a Seattle police officer during a downtown protest against police brutality and racial inequality.
Just before 4 p.m. on Dec. 6, the 30-year-old bicycle officer was part of a “mobile fence line,” using her bike to shield other officers making an unrelated arrest at First Avenue and Blanchard Street, charging papers say. Abesha Mamo Shiferaw pushed forward through the crowd and ignored the officer’s repeated commands to back up, the papers say.
When the officer used her bike to push Shiferaw back, Shiferaw responded by spitting in her face, according to the charges.
Shiferaw ran into the crowd and began changing her clothes, but was followed by plainclothes detectives and arrested about a block away, charging papers say.
She was released from the King County Jail on Dec. 8 after posting $5,000 bail, jail records show.
“The defendant is alleged to have shoved and spit on a police officer who was attempting to do her job, while surrounded by a crowd of angry and aggressive protesters,” King County Deputy Prosecutor Kathryn Meyers wrote in charging documents. Shiferaw’s “violent behavior demonstrates a threat to community safety,” Meyers wrote.
During that Saturday night protest, a small group broke away from a larger protest and began throwing rocks at officers. A protest the following evening was described by police as being “very peaceful.”
The protests in Seattle have been part of a nationwide effort to decry the recent grand-jury decision not to indict New York police Officer Daniel Pantoleo in the death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who died as he was being arrested on suspicion of illegally selling loose cigarettes. That decision came shortly after a St. Louis County grand jury decided not to indict a Ferguson, Mo., police officer for fatally shooting Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old.