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Officer kills driver dragging another officer; group protests at scene
[Seattle, WA]

May 31, 2001

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Officer kills driver dragging another officer; group protests at scene
[Seattle, WA]

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June 1, 2001, 01:30 PM
SEATTLE - A Seattle police officer shot and killed a driver who was dragging the officer's partner with his car after a traffic stop, police spokeswoman Pam McCammon said Friday. Community members who say the officers used excessive force were blocking a street at the scene Friday afternoon.

Protesters believe the officers used excessive force.

According to police, one officer was talking to the driver of this car when he started to speed away, dragging the officer with him.

The incident began at about 11 p.m. Thursday when the two officers pulled over a white Cadillac that had been driving erratically at 23rd Avenue and Union Street in the city's Central District, McCammon said.

One officer spoke with the driver, who handed over his ID as requested, but then pulled it back. When the officer reached in to grab it, the driver grabbed his arm and stepped on the gas, McCammon said.

"The driver put the vehicle in reverse, and continued dragging the officer while driving in reverse until he collided into some concrete planters," said Seattle police spokesman Scott Moss.

The officer's partner caught up with the car on foot, opened the passenger door and struggled with the driver. Witnesses said the car made several starts and stops, apparently "trying to shake the officers loose ... so he could drive away," McCammon said.

The second officer fired at least one shot which hit the driver, Moss said.

The man, in his 30s, died at Harborview Medical Center, McCammon said. His name was not immediately released by the King County medical examiner's office.

Both officers also went to Harborview, where they were treated and released, hospital spokeswoman Kristin Foley said.

McCammon said the officer who was dragged suffered back pain, bruises and scrapes.

The few dozen protesters who had gathered at 23rd Avenue and Union Street Friday said the officers used excessive force against an unarmed black man. Both officers involved in the shooting were reported to be white.

Some demonstrators carried signs that read slogans like "SPD - KKK: Is there a difference?" and "Black man killed again - Do you care?" They wondered why someone was stopped just for driving erratically, and why the officers had to use deadly force.

Officers say they only use deadly force when they believe lives are at risk.

"Killing someone without having a weapon is something which is difficult to understand," said resident Mohamed Saireh, "and also, if there were two officers, and there was only one person, they can overcome without shooting."

Police promised a full investigation into the incident. Both officers had been placed on administrative leave.

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