A high school teacher and activist sued the city of Seattle after a police officer sprayed chemical irritant directly into his face as he left a peaceful rally on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Jesse Hagopian, who spoke at the event about how black lives matter, was making arrangements by cell phone with his mother to attend his son’s second birthday party when he passed a Seattle police officer screaming at passersby.
Video of the Jan. 19 incident shows the officer and some others standing at a police barricade as she orders a small, peaceful crowd – most of whom were walking past the police – to disperse.
Hagopian said officers set up a barricade with their bicycles to prevent protesters from marching, and he said some participants walked through the line – but he did not.
“Stand back, stand back,” the officer screams as she holds a canister of pepper spray.
Suddenly, as Hagopian walks past talking on his cell phone, the officer blasts pepper spray – which the video shows hits him and an unidentified woman directly in the face.
Hagopian and the woman immediately duck for cover and the crowd scatters.
“I felt the piercing pain shoot through my eye, my ear drum and my nostril, all over my cheek and face,” said Hagopian, whose eye was swollen shut afterward. “I yelled out. My mom was in distress as she heard me yell.”
The officer continues to spray the chemical irritant in a sweeping motion toward the crowd, and she again orders the crowd to stand back when some witnesses ask what happened.
Video of the incident was uploaded to YouTube on Wednesday, the same day Hagopian’s attorney filed a lawsuit against the city.
A spokesman for the police department said he had not seen the video and was unable to comment.
Watch video of the incident posted online by james bible: