Video: Man claims Seattle cop 'choked' him during arrest

Officers were responding to a call for a hit and run when they found the suspect, and struggle ensued

By PoliceOne Staff

SEATTLE — Seattle police released the dash cam footage Tuesday of a highly-publicized arrest of a suspect.

Officers were responding to a call for a hit and run of a female bicyclist when they found the suspect, Leo Etherly, who had been driving a van with a license plate matching the description, according to My Northwest.

The video shows an altercation ensue shortly after officers attempt to arrest Etherly.

In the video, two officers can be seen grabbing Etherly's arms before a third officer — Eric Faust — performs a hands on neck maneuver.

"What are you choking me for?" Etherly asked as he appears to be resisting. "I'm not choking you," Officer Faust said, "I'm getting your head away from me." Etherly can then be seen spitting at the officers. 

Police say the suspect was resisting arrest and clearly intended to spit on officers to continue his aggression, according to the article.  It was only after being hit by spit spray that Faust struck him, they added.

Etherly’s attorney, James Egan, claimed the video proves to be “the worst case of police brutality,” and wishes for the assault charge for spitting at the officers to be dropped.

"No one wants to use force any time during any contact," Seattle Police spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb told reporters Tuesday.

"Wouldn't have this have been better if we had just made contact with this man and he left his hands on the car and when they said this is probable cause for an arrest ... (he) puts his hands behind his back like he was asked and is cuffed up and processed and then goes through the criminal justice where he actually has representation and he gets to do that? Most contacts actually go that way."

He added are still looking into Faust's use of force, the alleged hit-and-run and the alleged spit assault on police.

"Spitting on someone is dangerous," Whitcomb told reporters. "It could be harmful because of any pathogens that might be there. We don't know anyone's health history when we're dealing with them. But ultimately you may as well punch someone if you spit on them. The idea is it's assaultive behavior to officers who are doing their job."

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