The reasonable use of pepper spray by SPD May 1, 2013 by Thomas Burns

So I have at times done small bits of research and one interesting topic is whatever comes up when you search for Seattle police pepper spray.

In addition to seeing and learning that spd used pepper spray on protestors sitting in the street in 1999, there is also the video up on youtube of an spd officer using pepper spray May 1, 2013. The officer is identified as t burns, a fellow who is also a trainer in crowd control for spd.

Anyway, you go on the web or you go down to city hall and you fill out a little form called a public disclosure request.

And I requested all the reports and reviews of use of pepper spray or force by T Burns on May 1, 2013.

Now, I am not saying that the use of pepper spray by Burns in 2013 was reasonable or unreasonable. God and Burns can figure that one out and it is beyond me.

Anyway, on May 1, 2013 Burns used pepper spray on a number of people including several still photo and video journalists.

And, so you request the little report and you get to read Burns explanation of what he was doing and why and, naturally, the use of force by Burns in pepper spraying a bunch of people on the sidewalk is/was ruled justified by the use of force reviewer/supervisor.

Now, it should be noted that I am usually, between 75 and 95% of the time, maybe, a fan and supporter of the police.

Police have a difficult job and their job is made more difficult by seeming political pressures.

On May 1, 2013 the crowd included some persons who were assaultive and combative and/or had thrown items at officers.

This is unreasonable and bad unless you have a very good cause and are starting a civil war. No one gets to throw rocks or bottles at police simply because police also protect the windows of a shop. How shall the police know whose windows to protect unless we agree to protect all of them?

The crowd was somewhat unruly and there were a smaller number of assaultive, combative persons. Around 8 at night, an order to disperse was given, together with instructions to police to remove persons and if needed use oc spray.

Around that time, presumably not long after, Burns uses the oc spray on 5 to 15 persons in his vicinity, either to keep them away from officers and himself or as part of moving them. Since we now know and Burns knew then that some of the persons were photographers doing still or video recording, we know that all or some of those sprayed were in fact, not threatening Burns. At least, not directly, but they were part of a larger group and some others of that larger group included persons who were assaultive and combative.

Anyway, police brought in Burns to make what is called or he calls an “involuntary statement,” per police procedure whatever.

And note what Burns says about his use of spray on May 1, 2013. He used it “in a manner to create a safety margin for all involved and to limit the physical interaction between the crowd and officers.”

Burns used the spray, not chiefly, it appears, on persons attacking him or threatening him personally, but to ensure his and others safety in a dangerous situation by keeping people away and moving in a desired direction.

Now, I am not saying Burns use of spray was bad or good . . . but I have been told by at least one person that he thinks there is an interesting contrast with other, completely hypothetical, situations.

So, one question seems to be, if and when you have pepper spray as a weapon available to you, and if you are in dangerous situation due to the fault and crimes and assaults being done by others and not yourself, then, is it appropriate to use pepper spray to ensure your safety?  Burns said he was creating a safety margin . . . and his conduct was, it seems, legal, proper, reasonable and justified.

I’ve heard some very conflicting answers on that . . .  There are some people who think that police live by one set of rules for themselves and expect the people of the public to live by a different set of rules.

Of course, we are not in federal court now . . . but there is what is called selective enforcement.   If you have a perfectly good and constitutional law, and you apply it to one class of persons and not to others, then, the US Supreme court is not very happy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *