SEATTLE — A lawyer released a video Friday showing a Seattle police officer striking a restrained man during an arrest in 2010.
Isaac Ocak, who was 18 at the time, had left a car locked with the engine running outside a department store while he returned some items on Dec. 29, 2010, said his attorney, James Egan. When he came back, officers questioned him about why he’d left it there.
The store was on private property, and leaving the car did not constitute a crime or infraction.
The video shows Ocak initially speaking calmly with the officers and referring to one as “sir” but becoming more agitated as he was questioned for several minutes and Officer Larry Longley grilled him about why he had so many keys on his key chain.
Egan obtained the video under the state’s Public Records Act and publicized it Friday after filing a complaint for damages against the city on Ocak’s behalf.
As the questioning continued, Ocak occasionally lifted his hands off the hood of a patrol car despite orders to leave them there. As officers pressed him to the hood, Ocak resisted. Longley grabbed Ocak’s mouth and Ocak bit him, prompting the officer to punch him twice in the head as other officers held him down.
Egan said the incident shows unnecessary aggression by the officers, and fits in with the Justice Department’s findings that Seattle police had a pattern of unnecessarily using force, especially in low-level situations that could be resolved verbally.
The police department’s Office of Professional Accountability is reviewing the arrest, which Assistant Chief Jim Pugel previously determined to be justified.
“Officers were concerned the car could be a potential getaway vehicle for a shoplifter or robber, and tracked down the man who had left the car running,” Sgt. Sean Whitcomb said in a written statement. “Officers found the man was not the registered owner of the vehicle, and discovered the man had, following prior run-ins with police, been flagged as a potential danger to officers.”
Egan said there was no reason for officers to act the way they did when Ocak had committed no crime.
“Once the ‘suspicious vehicle’ was determined not to be so suspicious, the officers should have let Mr. Ocak go at most with a warning or a trespass admonishment issued by the strip mall security, since this was not a public roadway,” he said.