The King County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a scuffle that erupted when Seattle police tried to make an arrest on New Year’s Eve.
Police officers ended up using a Taser on the man who, at that time, was on his hands and knees.
Nearly a dozen police officers and at least one firefighter chased and tackled the man
Police say Richardson, 23, had a simple choice — comply or get arrested, and he chose the latter. But Richardson’s aunt claims the police took it one step too far when they didn’t have to, with her nephew already on the ground.
The scuffle broke out in the packed streets near the Space Needle when a computer glitch suddenly stopped the planned fireworks, sending the excited crowds on the ground over the edge.
The footage shows Richardson being pepper-sprayed, punched then Tased from behind while he was down on his knees.
“He was beat in the back of the head with a baton, he was kicked, he was punched in the face (and) for what?” said Michelle King, his aunt.
King, who works for Seattle’s Municipal Court, says she knows the justice system and is sure the officers went too far.
“To me, the police department is nothing but a licensed gang and I stand by my son. And no matter what happens after today, I’m going to stand by my son and my nephew until the end,” she said.
When KOMO 4 News showed the tape to Seattle police, they shared a different take of the incident.
Police spokesman Mark Jamieson said officers did not use excessive force, noting that Richardson was seen running in the footage instead of complying.
“Why would you run from the police?” Jamieson said. “If he is intoxicated, if he is under the influence of drugs, if he has a weapon on him… clearly if he’s on his hands and knees, his hands are free; he still has access to a weapon.”
Police said they faced a near-riot scene on New Year’s Eve and Richardson, who had been drinking, was making the situation worse.
“You saw how quickly the application of the Taser got him into compliance,” Jamieson said after viewing the video tape of the arrest.
Jamieson said officers may have been giving orders that Richardson wasn’t following.
Richardson’s cousin admitted that Richardson had a verbal argument with an officer before the scuffle.
“Just yelling, arguing,” said Isaiah Cooper. “No one fought no one had weapons.”
Richardson’s family plans to sue the Seattle Police Department.
Richardson could face several charges, including obstructing an officer and criminal trespass.
Richardson has several misdemeanors on his record, including an arrest for disorderly conduct. He bailed out of jail Tuesday evening.