Why did a police officer blast high school history teacher Jesse Hagopian with a pepper spray, as he strolled home after delivering an inspirational speech at a Martin Luther King Jr. memorial rally on January 19? Hagopian was talking to his mom on a cell phone as he prepared for his two-year-old son’s birthday that day.
As the above video shows, he did not make it unscathed.
As what appears to be an ordinary group of pedestrians walks normally along a sidewalk in Seattle, Washington, after the MLK Day rally, a seemingly unhinged female police officer screams, “Get back! Get back!”
Though the crowd is largely oblivious to her ranting, and the pedestrians appear to be keeping to themselves several yards away from the bicycle officer, the cop unleashes a blast of pepper spray directly at the unsuspecting Hagopian as he passes by, speaking on his cell phone to his mother.
As she unleashes the stinging spray, the woman shrieks, “Seattle Police Department!”
“He instantly felt a burning sensation in his eyes and had some difficulty breathing,” the lawsuit filed by Hagopian’s attorney James Bible, says, describing the Garfield High School teacher’s unpleasant and dangerous experience that day.
The above video, posted to YouTube Wednesday by Bible, gives a clear picture of the bizarre pepper spray attack leveled by the bicycle officer against the teacher. As the video shows, another woman, a passer-by who happens to be walking next to Hagopian, also gets a dose of the spray in her face.
“His eyes were burning, his nostrils were inflamed, his ear was burning,” Bible explained in an interview with The Guardian newspaper. “He spent the rest of his day washing his eyes out with milk and trying to get better.”
As the officer continues to spray the painful gas toward the pedestrians, another pedestrian stops and protests, “We have a right to walk on the sidewalk.”
A separate video, viewable at this link, and taken by someone from a high vantage point, shows officers down the street from the pedestrians also spraying people, as a bicycle officer lies on the ground.
According to Seattle Police Spokesperson Sgt. Sean Whitcomb, that officer had been somehow dislodged from his bicycle by protesters who were attempting to block traffic. But that incident appears to have taken place well away from the sidewalk where Hagopian walked when he took his pepper spray blast to the face from a screaming police officer.