BELLEVUE, Wash. – The Bellevue Police Department launched an internal investigation into an incident Saturday, May 13 in which officers used a Taser on a teenager.
The investigation was launched after the teen’s parents filed a complaint.
The incident was caught on a cell phone camera. Police said it started at Bellevue Square when security guards recognized a teen who had been previously banned from the mall for a vandalism complaint, according to Bellevue police.
When police officers arrived they realized the teen also was a suspect in car theft investigation. Investigators said the teen ran from the mall property to the QFC across the street.
On the video you can hear police warn the teen. “If you fight you’re going to get Tasered,” the officer said. The teen is seen struggling and an officer uses a Taser. The teen is warned they will use it again if he keeps fighting back. After the incident, the teen was released to his parents, according to his mother.
On Monday the teen’s parents filed a complaint against the officers involved; the police department is conducting a “use of force” investigation, which is standard procedure.
The teen’s mother told KIRO 7 that she was shocked when she saw the video. She said she saw eight very large officers around her son, who weighs less than 120 pounds, and that a Taser was not needed. She also told KIRO-7 he is a good kid and a good athlete.
She said Bellevue police had already planned to come to their house on Saturday evening to talk about the car theft investigation and that she was told her son would be questioned, but not arrested.
The teen was arrested for investigation of automobile theft and felony trespassing, he was then released to his parents, according to the King County Prosecutor’s Office.
“When I viewed the video certainly you see what you see,” Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett said. “Then I watched it like 15 different times and I slow-motioned it numerous times. Each time I watch it, I pick up something new and I hear something different. So I would ask people to use a little bit of caution to rush to judgment based on one minute and 47 seconds of lengthier police contact,” he said.
“We’ll be talking to witnesses, looking at the evidence, and the facts. A review of the officers’ performance will be closely looked at; it will arrive at my desk for review and I will make a decision about the appropriateness of our actions,” Mylett said.
KIRO 7 showed the video to police training expert Jesus Villahermosa, who worked for the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office for more than 30 years, and now operates Crisis Reality Training for officers.
“They warned him,” he said. “They certainly gave him notice of what was about to occur. He chose not to comply with their directives.
“He then clearly resists arrest, which is a separate crime,” Villahermosa said.
The video also shows a man trying to block the camera during the incident. Bellevue police said that was a private security guard from Bellevue Square.
“The individual that can be seen on the video interfering with the recording of this incident is not a police officer nor is he affiliated in any way with the Bellevue Police Department, but is rather a private security guard,” Officer Seth Tyler of the Bellevue police department said. “All Bellevue police officers have been trained to allow community members to lawfully film police activity in a public place within their rights provided by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.”