TACOMA, Wash. - A Tacoma police cruiser ran over a person Saturday night after responding to a reported street racing incident in the South 900 Block of Pacific Avenue.
Tacoma police spokeswoman, Officer Wendy Haddow, said the agency started receiving calls at 6:19 p.m. that a car was driving erratically and there were reports of street racing in the area.
Police say about 100 folks blocked the intersection.
The officer arrived on scene and called for the crowd to disperse, she said. People in the crowd surrounded the cruiser, according to Haddow, and began hitting the vehicle.
Haddow says the officer, fearing for their safety, tried to back their car up, but was unable to due to the crowd. The officer then drove forward, police say, "striking one individual and may have impacted others."
However, video from the scene shows the police car drive through a large crowd of people knocking several of them over, and completely running over one person.
Because this is considered use of deadly force, the Pierce County Investigation Team is taking lead on the incident.
The Puyallup Police Department is the one doing the investigation. Captain Dan Pashon provided updates late into the evening on the investigation.
Pashon says two people went to the hospital; one has since been released, and the status on the second person is unknown.
Pashon says his team will work to compile the facts of the incident. There is no timeline for how long this process will take. However, following the investigation, there will be no decisions made as far as disciplinary or legal action.
Following the incident, a small group of about two dozen protesters surrounded the scene. At least one person was taken away from the scene in handcuffs.
Demonstrators returned to the same area of Tacoma on Sunday night.
TPD said on Sunday that the officer driving the vehicle is a 58-year-old man who’s been with the department for nearly 30 years. Per department policy, he was placed on paid leave while the Pierce County Force Investigation Team does its investigation.
Interim Tacoma Police Chief Mike Ake responded to the incident in a statement saying:
"I am concerned that our department is experiencing another use of deadly force incident. I send my thoughts to anyone who was injured in tonight’s event, and am committed to our Department's full cooperating in the independent investigation and to assess the actions of the department’s response during the incident."
Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards issued the following statement:
"For those who woke up this morning feeling outrage, frustration, grief, heartbreak, or confusion, I understand and honor your feelings. I, too, am deeply saddened by what we saw last night.
As a use of deadly force, this incident is being taken very seriously and the scene has appropriately been turned over to the Pierce County Force Investigation Team for independent investigation. As we learn the facts of the case, I have called on the City Manager and Police Chief to ensure that everyone involved is held accountable.
While we await more information, I want the community to know that I am deeply concerned and praying for everyone who was impacted by last night’s events.
I continue to be proud of Tacoma’s long-standing reputation as a place of strong, non-violent advocacy and activism. I continue to support your right to use your voice to advocate and demonstrate peacefully during this time of heightened tension.
I know our community’s resiliency continues to be tested. I also know that we are strong and that we will get through this together."