Protest erupts over police car driving through crowd

Protest Erupts Over Police Car Driving Through Crowd
Ted S. Warren

A car drives near burning trash and a COVID-19 mask safety sign during a protest against police brutality, late Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, in downtown Tacoma, Wash., south of Seattle. The protest came a day after at least two people were injured when a Tacoma Police officer responding to a report of a street race drove his car through a crowd of pedestrians that had gathered around him. Several people were knocked to the ground and at least one person was run over.

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — Protesters set a large fire, damaged buildings and marched with signs late Sunday in response to a police car driving through a crowd in Washington state the day before, leaving at least two people injured.

The demonstrators gathered near the intersection in Tacoma where the police car plowed through a crowd of pedestrians while responding to a reported street race Saturday evening. Video of the incident was widely shared online and appeared to show at least one person being run over.

Both injured people went to hospitals with injuries not considered to be life threatening. One person has since been released, news outlets reported.

Sunday evening, demonstrators gathered at a park, then marched through downtown where windows were shattered and spray paint was tagged on multiple buildings. Several items were set up to create a barricade in the street where a large trash can was set ablaze. The demonstrators also passed by the Pierce County Jail.

There were no known injuries from the demonstration, police said in a tweet, adding that the protest was cleared around 11 p.m.

The officer involved in the incident Saturday is a 58-year-old man who has been with the department for 29 1/2 years, Tacoma police said. He had been surrounded by a crowd after arriving at the reported street race. People began hitting the body of the cruiser, and the officer feared for his safety. The officer drove forward through the crowd, and then stopped and called for medical aid, police said.

The officer has been placed on paid administrative leave.

Protesters told news outlets they want the officer to be fired, and criticized the city for what they said was a lack of transparency.

The Tacoma Community’s Police Advisory Committee scheduled a virtual meeting Monday at 6 p.m. to discuss the incident.

The Pierce County Force Investigation Team is looking into Saturday’s incident. The team is comprised of law enforcement officials from around the county and community representatives, The Seattle Times reported.

Police additionally said Sunday that while officers were observing the protest, three people appeared to try to get onto the roof of a building downtown. Two were armed with a handgun and knives and were arrested. The third got away.

Tacoma is located about 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of Seattle.