SEATTLE - Some viewers of the videotaped 2008 arrest of businessman Jon Kita might think Seattle Police officer Kevin Oshikawa-Clay was using unnecessary tactics in subduing the smaller, compliant suspect under Seattle's I-5 freeway. A federal judge has already found the dash-cam video "tends to indicate" the officer used excessive force and the case should go to civil trial over Kita's damage claims.
But the Seattle City Attorney's office sees the vid much differently, and has decided to take the digital recording - around which the fate of the case swirls - to the federal Appeals Court in San Francisco. After analyzing each hand-to-head strike, the city is arguing that, contrary to the judge's view, when Oshikawa-Clay banged Kita's head on the police-car hood and then took him to the ground and struck him twice more, the officer was using minimal force: one slap and two bops.
City attorneys, in their appeals brief filed with the 9th Circuit Court two weeks ago, call the use of force a "distraction technique . . . a brief slap and two left-handed fist 'bops' to the head." And that's permitted.