Concerns about police violence against a Black man and echoes of CHOP and months of protests against SPD flared on Broadway Wednesday night, turning the arrest of a suspected DUI driver into a heated standoff and flooding the area with officers from across the city and members of the department’s crowd control task force.
The incident, occurring at one of the busiest corners in the city at a still-busy time of day, is the latest example in Seattle of ongoing concerns and distrust of police — especially in incidents involving Black males.
The Capitol Hill incident began with reports of traffic issues on Broadway and then, around 8:20 PM, a report of a car stopped and blocking the street with a reportedly unconscious driver at the wheel in the 200 block of Broadway E. According to East Precinct radio, an officer attempting to take the driver into custody issued a call for help around 8:25 PM, sending the first wave of police cars to the area just north of the E John/E Olive Way at Broadway intersection.
UPDATE: In a brief on the incident, SPD says the suspected DUI driver attempted to run from the scene:
Just after 8:00 p.m., officers were flagged down about a man asleep at the wheel of his running car, which was blocking traffic in the 200 block of Broadway. Officers believed the driver was intoxicated and asked the man to step out of his vehicle, which he did. When police attempted to take the man into custody for investigation of DUI, he tried to run away and fought with officers. Officers were able to place him in handcuffs after a struggle.
“During the arrest, a hostile crowd of several dozen people formed on the sidewalk on both sides of the street,” the brief reads. “Officers called for additional units to stabilize the scene, ensuring the safety of both officers and bystanders.”
The situation quickly spiraled out of control. According to witnesses and Seattle Police Department radio reports, a large crowd formed during the fight with the suspect as the man yelled he was unable to breathe. Many people were photographing and recording the scene. More police were dispatched to the area along with officers from SPD’s Community Response Group, the task force formed during 2020’s ongoing protest to focus on crowd control efforts across the city.
Police struggled to push back the crowd and establish control of the 200 block of Broadway E, allowing Seattle Fire to dispatch a crew to the scene to treat the suspect and transport him from the scene around 8:40 PM. Public address announcements ordering the crowd to disperse, something that became a regular part of nights during 2020’s protests, bounced off buildings around Broadway and only seemed to further agitate the groups and crowd.
Groups were reported in continued conflict with police including people that gathered at the East Precinct where the suspect’s car was towed and another incident at Harborview — though police said the suspect had been taken to Swedish for observation.
We do not yet have further information from Seattle Fire regarding the suspect’s condition and will be following up with SPD to learn more about the arrest and any booking information from the incident and investigation. UPDATE: SFD reports its crews treated a 44-year-old man at the scene before transporting him to the hospital in stable condition. SPD says medics examined the suspect “and determined he was stable and did not need further medical attention” —
Because the suspect continued to be combative throughout the incident, SPD determined it would be safest to transport him on a gurney, which is typically done by private ambulance. However, since the wait for a private ambulance was around 30 minutes, and the crowd at the scene continued to be hostile, SFD agreed to transport the suspect to the hospital so SPD could complete a DUI blood draw. After the blood draw the suspect was transported to KCJ for and booked for DUI, obstruction, and driving with a suspended license.
Police say around two dozen people marched on the East Precinct at 12th and Pine, blocking traffic before the crowd was “eventually dispersed.”
There were no reported additional arrests or injuries.
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