- Joined May 1, 2006
Video Released Of Belltown Takedown Involving Deputy
Posted: 3:34 pm PDT May 21, 2009Updated: 6:44 pm PDT May 21, 2009
SEATTLE -- The King County Sheriff's Office has released surveillance video of a deputy tackling a man in Belltown, calling it a "tragic accident."
RAW VIDEO: WARNING: Takedown Caught On Camera
Christopher Harris, a 29-year-old Edmonds man, has been in a coma after his skull was fractured when a King County sheriff's deputy tackled him against a wall in Belltown in the early hours of Sunday, May 10.
Sgt. John Urquhart of the King County Sheriff's Office held a media briefing Thursday afternoon to go over details of the incident prior to releasing the video.
VIDEO: Sgt. Calls Belltown Takedown 'Tragic Accident'
Urquhart said two Metro Transit deputies were working the overnight shift and on foot patrol at about 1 a.m. when they came upon an incident at a Belltown convenience store.
Surveillance video from the Belltown convenience store showed a man running into the store, followed soon after by three more men chasing after him, Urquhart said.
Meanwhile, two women who were standing outside heard banging and commotion coming from the store. They saw the men run out of the store with blood on them and suspected the store had been robbed or that someone was stabbed, Urquhart said.
The women then spotted the two deputies walking toward them, and one woman motioned to the direction in which the men ran. By this time, the deputies had seen blood in the convenience store and had suspected that something happened, Urquhart said.
One woman walked the deputies to the alley and pointed at a man saying, "That's one of them. There he is right there," Urquhart said. She was pointing to Harris, who she thought was one of the men involved in store incident.
One deputy said Harris looked at them and "had a look in his eye like he's going to run," Urquhart said.
Harris then took off running. Urquhart said the deputies, who were in full uniform, told Harris to stop and identified themselves as police. They chased Harris for a few blocks and eventually he slowed down in front of the Cinerama at Fourth Avenue and Lenora Street.
Urquhart said from the surveillance video at Cinerama that "Chris looks like he is running out of steam."
Video shows Harris running parallel to the building, when one deputy comes at him from the left and shoves him in the wall. Harris instantly went down.
Deputies turned Harris over and were putting cuffs on him when they saw his injuries and radioed for aid.
"We don't know why he ran," Urquhart said.
The lawyer for Harris' family previously said he may not have recognized the two men chasing him as deputies.
Urquhart said several eyewitnesses heard someone yell, "Stop, police," and saw the man being chased by officers.
The second deputy chasing Harris said he yelled "police" at least three times. Urquhart said it would be "ludicrous" for the deputies to not identify themselves as police.
"It doesn't matter why he ran. We're most concerned with what happened at Cinerama," Urquhart said.
When asked what Harris had been doing earlier in the evening, Urquhart said he had a couple of drinks and asked someone to drive him to Belltown. When he got out of his friend's car he told him he would be right back, Urquhart said. He never came back.
Harris didn't have his cell phone and lost his during the pursuit, Urquhart said. He also didn't have any drugs on him.
The preliminary conclusion is that the deputy didn't break any laws and that he was just trying to stop Harris. The deputies had probable cause to arrest him because they thought he was involved in the convenience store incident, Urquhart said. Harris was not involved in the incident.
He also went on to say that there is, "No question that his injuries were caused by our officer" and that "Deputy Paul did not mean to injure Harris."
"We look at this as a tragic accident," Urquhart said. "Nothing more than that."
The family of Christopher Harris said they were angry when they saw the surveillance video over a week ago. Speaking outside the Cinerama Thursday, Harris' stepfather said it is a clear case of excessive force.
"I think this is an accountable thing, for people's training. If they're coming from ex-military, or anything else, if they act like that in the community, it's outrageous," said Todd Keeling.
The family's attorney is demanding accountability.
"We believe the actions of Deputy Paul were at best horribly brutal, and at worst, criminal," said Sim Osborn, the Harris family attorney.
The investigation is continuing and prosecutors will make the final determination if the deputy broke any laws.
Urquhart said this video wasn't released earlier because they didn't want to "taint" the accounts of eyewitnesses.
The main deputy involved, Deputy Matthew Paul, remains on administrative leave. It's not known when he will return.
The second deputy involved has returned to work.
Harris is still at Harborview Medical Center in critical condition.
Idk what to say...i mean there really could be many ways to attack this
i think the cops shouldnt have been on their shoot first/ask later steez, but at the same time they gotta do their job. Just aup situation