MILL CREEK — A video posted last week on social media shows a Snohomish County sheriff’s deputy repeatedly punching a man lying on the ground.
According to a report, he was tensing up and digging his nails into the deputy’s arm.
The video originally appeared on the app Nextdoor with the title, “extrajudicial punishment or nah?” The 23-second video depicts a scene that took place around 5 a.m. on May 28. It apparently was recorded with a cellphone from the second story of a house on 35th Avenue Southeast, near Southeast 132nd Street, a little north of Mill Creek.
The video begins with a deputy pulling a man out of a van and forcing him to the pavement in a driveway. The man appears to lie still as the deputy rapidly punches him at least 10 times, while two other deputies help keep him on the ground. The man can be heard talking. “Hey I’m not resisting, guys,” he says. He claims he has an auto-immune deficiency and that he’s positive for COVID-19.
A woman in the driver’s seat also appears to be talking but is inaudible in the video. At one point, a deputy turns around, points at her and says, “Shut up.”
Several Nextdoor commenters remarked that the poster should send the recording to the press, though he did not respond to anyone. He could not be reached by The Daily Herald.
The use of force is under a supervisor’s review, according to the sheriff’s office.
The arrest wasn’t related to the protests taking place throughout the nation, including in Snohomish County, against police brutality. Those protests began after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on the neck of George Floyd for nearly 9 minutes — while he was handcuffed, lying face down on the street and pleading that he couldn’t breathe — ultimately killing him.
The sheriff’s office provided a summary of deputies’ reports to The Daily Herald. They don’t include any identifying information for victims, suspects or law enforcement officers. According to the county, The Herald’s request for the complete public records concerning the case won’t be fulfilled until July 27, nearly two months after the request was submitted.
According to the edited report, a 911 call came in for a stolen silver 2008 Audi A4. Deputies also had been in the area looking for someone with a Department of Corrections felony warrant, with probable cause to arrest him for a domestic violence assault. According to court papers, the 43-year-old suspect had thrown a bottle of vodka and orange juice at his ex-girlfriend and shook her, telling her not to make a scene, on May 25. She called police. Deputies responded to the scene and searched the neighborhood but couldn’t find the man. He was known to stay in a Ford Windstar van.
On May 28, deputies saw a black Ford Mustang speed by westbound on 132nd Street Southeast and turn into the Mill Pointe Apartments, stopping by an Audi. Screaming and yelling could be heard coming from the parking lot, and people ran in different directions. Vehicles began coming out of the complex — among them the Mustang and a green Ford Windstar that the deputies believed belonged to their suspect.
Deputies stopped both vehicles. A woman in the Ford Mustang began yelling, “He just stole our vehicle,” pointing at a third car — what appeared to be an Audi — speeding away on 132nd.
Meanwhile, a deputy pulled over the Ford Windstar around 5 a.m. in the 12700 block of 35th Avenue Southeast, and two other deputies responded to assist, according to the sheriff’s office. The suspect hid under a blanket in the backseat and wasn’t complying to commands to open the door. Deputies reported that they feared he might have a firearm or another weapon with him under the blanket.
A woman driving the van eventually unlocked the doors. According to the sheriff’s office report, deputies opened the sliding door and ordered the suspect to get out. He didn’t. The blanket still covered most of his body, and his hands were near his chest, deputies reported.
As can be seen in the video, the sheriff’s office says a deputy grabbed the man and pulled him out of the van. According to the report, he “provided static resistance by flexing his muscles to prevent deputies from moving him.” Deputies struggled to get the man’s arms behind his back so they could handcuff him, the report says.
According to the sheriff’s office, the man grabbed a deputy’s fingers and dug in his fingernails. He reportedly tensed his left arm “as if he was trying to get out of the deputy’s grasp.”
“The deputy delivered a few close hand strikes to the top of the suspect’s fist and he ordered him to release his fist,” the sheriff’s office’s summary states.
The man released his grip briefly but then grabbed the deputy’s hand and dug his fingernails into the deputy’s skin again, according to the summary. The deputy delivered another round of punches, allowing him to arrest the suspect, according to the sheriff’s office.
In the video, the view of the suspect’s arms is blocked by another deputy. While he said he wasn’t resisting, and appeared to be lying still on the ground, it is impossible to tell what he is doing with his hands.
The suspect was booked into the Snohomish County Jail for fourth-degree domestic violence assault and a parole violation. He was released on June 2. According to court records, the case was dismissed when no criminal complaint was filed in time.
The Audi that was reported stolen was found nearby, in the 2900 block of 96th Street Southeast.