James Egan, the attorney who earlier this month released a video of police officers unleashing a torrent of profanity, has a new video to share. In this one, involving two of the same officers as the last, a driver is stopped by police and gets so scared that he calls 911.
Amanuel Gebreselassie, 23, posted the video of himself being stopped on YouTube this summer. But it's only now, after contacting Egan in the wake of the Department of Justice's scathing review of SPD, that he and the attorney are talking to the press.
The video shows five officers surrounding Gebreselassie's car during a traffic stop on Rainier Ave. S. and King Street. Three of the officers grab Gebreselassie out of the driver's seat and pull him to the ground, thrusting their knees into his back and cuffing them.
According to the police report filed by Officer Brett Schoenberg, one of the officers involved in the previous video, he became suspicious when he smelled marijuana in the car. According to the officer's account, Gebreselassie supplied his ID but then became "verbally aggressive," saying: "fuck off rookie," (Gebreselassie says that's a lie.)
At that point, the officer says he requested back up--which brought among others Casey Steiger, another officer in the previously released video--and told the driver to get out of the car. Schoenberg wrote that Gebreselassie refused.
In an interview with Seattle Weekly this afternoon, Gebreselassie says Schoenberg was aggressive from the start. When the driver didn't roll down his window far enough, he says the officer barked: "Roll down the fucking window. " Then he got excised about a plastic bag he saw the passenger was sitting on. Gebreselassie says he held the bag up to the officer's flashlight to show him it was empty.
"That's when I asked how is this relevant," Gebreselassie says. "Oh you want to be a smart guy?" he says the officer snapped.
"I felt threatened," Gebreselassie says. "I decided to call 911 myself."
"There's an officer here, he's talking crazy to me," the driver said when he called, according to a recording of the call. "He's cussing. I haven't said anything much to him." Gebreselassie said he wanted to make sure the guy was even a real officer.
"Get out of the car!" an officer can be heard demanding while Gebreselassie is still talking to the dispatcher. "
Gebreselassie said he couldn't possibly comply since three officers were blocking the door. That's when they grabbed him.
In the trunk of his car, officers did find 53 grams of pot. Gebreselassie says he had it because he was a caretaker for someone authorized to use medical marijuana.
Gebreselassie spent two days in the county jail before he was released without any charges being filed. He subsequently complained about the officers behavior to the SPD's Office of Professional Accountability. On November 17, the OPA wrote him a letter saying that an officer had been faulted for unprofessional conduct and use of profanity, which would result in a supervisor reviewing the incident with him. The officer was not, however, found to have used excess force.
Gebreselassie, who says he lost his job at Taco Time when he didn't show up for work because he was in jail, says he doesn't find that outcome adequate. He says he has no plans to sue, but wants to expose the officers' actions.
Egan wants more. He says Chief John Diaz has proved himself unable to weed out bad apples, and should therefore resign.