Protests erupted in Washington State Sunday night in response to a Tacoma Police Officer that drove into a crowd the night before, leaving two people injured. The victims remained in hospital for non-life-threatening injuries as of Monday morning, MyNorthwest.com reported.
During the protest, storefronts were damaged, trash cans were lit ablaze on the streets and some landmarks and street signs were spray painted with the name “Manny Ellis,” who died in Tacoma police custody last year, according to photos of the protest shared on Twitter.
No arrests took place during the protests, but two people were arrested ahead of it, CNN reported.
“For those who woke up this morning feeling outrage, frustration, grief, heartbreak or confusion, I understand and honor your feelings,” Tacoma mayor Victoria Woodwards said in a statement ahead of the protests. “I, too, am deeply saddened by what we saw last night.”
Tacoma City Council plans to convene to discuss the incident Monday afternoon.
A video of the incident that went viral shortly after showed a police car revving its engine as it was speeding away, with its back tires rolling over someone laying on the street, according to videos shared by CNN and KCPQ. More people were knocked to the ground, the Seattle Times reported.
The 58-year-old police officer, who had been with the Tacoma Police Department for nearly 30 years, was placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard under police policy, as an independent team investigates the incident, according to a press release. The officer was not further identified.
“I am concerned that our department is experiencing another use of deadly force incident,” Interim Police Chief Mike Ake said in a statement. “I send my thoughts to anyone who was injured in tonight’s event, and am committed to our Department’s full cooperation in the independent investigation and to assess the actions of the department’s response during the incident.”
Authorities were responding to an alleged illegal street racing incident Saturday night, the Seattle Times reported. Police officers said they encountered multiple vehicles and a crowd of around 100 people when they arrived to the scene after multiple 911 reports, and began clearing the crowd.
Cops said a crowd gathered around the police officer’s cruiser, and began hitting the body and windows. The officer was “fearing for his safety” he tried to back up but couldn’t because of the crowd, according to the police department press release. “While trying to extricate himself from an unsafe position, the officer drove forward striking one individual and may have impacted others. The officer stopped at a point of safety and called for medical aid and struck a pedestrian”, the press release said.
A photo shared of the police vehicle after the incident showed footprints on the body, according to CNN.