Seattle Officer Held Knee on Protester's Neck for Nearly 13 Seconds Days After George Floyd's Death, Report Says

A Seattle police officer held his knee on the neck of a demonstrator for nearly 13 seconds during a May protest that was held in response to the death of George Floyd, according to a new report from Seattle's Office of Police Accountability (OPA).

The incident occurred on May 30, just five days after Floyd, a Black man, died while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota. News of his death quickly spread and ignited a wave of protests in the U.S. and around the world as people called for an end to systemic racism and changes to policing policies.

The OPA's report was one of five released on Friday that reviewed allegations of police misconduct at protests. According to the OPA, officials received about 19,000 reports of alleged police misconduct since the end of May, though many were duplicate reports about the same incidents.

Seattle BLM protest
Protesters holding a Black Lives Matter banner shout at law enforcement officers on May 30, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. On Friday, Seattle’s Office of Police Accountability released a report that said one officer placed his knee on a demonstrator’s neck for nearly 13 seconds during a protest on May 30. Karen Ducey/Getty

The office said in a news release that those reports have resulted in more than 100 cases, only six of which have been completed, according to the OPA's complaint database. One of those six involved the unnamed officer who used "improper" force when he placed his knee on the protester's neck. At the time, the officer was responding to a call about protesters breaking into and robbing a T-Mobile store, according to the report.

The report said that officials did not find evidence to suggest the officer meant to " impair the demonstrators' breathing or use a neck or carotid restraint." However, the report said they did conclude that the officer kept his knee on the protester's neck for approximately 13 seconds.

"This use of force was found to be improper and inconsistent with SPD policy and training," the report said.

The officer was accused of placing his knee on another protester's neck while responding to the same call, though the OPA said it was unable to determine whether or not his knee was actually on the protester's neck.

The OPA said the accused officer denied placing his knee on either of the protesters' necks and "believed that the positioning of his knee during this incident was appropriate and consistent with training." However, the OPA said it assessed video of both incidents and determined that in one case, the officer did hold his knee on one protester's neck, though the OPA reiterated that the move did not fit the definition of either a neck or a carotid restraint.

The report said that the Seattle police officer's actions were "not comparable" with that of the officers accused in Floyd's death. After he was arrested, Floyd was held in a neck restraint for more than eight minutes.

The same Seattle police officer was also accused of using "unprofessional" language that included cursing at protesters, which the OPA said was "simply unacceptable under Department policy."

The OPA said any disciplinary action taken against the officer would be determined by interim Seattle Police Department Chief Adrian Diaz.

The Seattle Police Department told Newsweek it is referring all questions related to the report to the OPA. Newsweek reached out to the OPA but did not receive a response in time for publication.

The Seattle Police Department allowed officers to use neck and carotid restraints until mid-June, at which time the department changed its policies to ban the use of both forms of restraint. Before the policy shift, the department said officers were allowed to use neck and carotid restraints "when deadly force is authorized."

In the two weeks following Floyd's death, more than one dozen police departments in the U.S. introduced bans on neck restraints amid calls for reform, and several others in the U.S. and around the world have made similar policy changes in the months since. In Minneapolis, the city council approved a chokehold ban in early June, a little over a week after Floyd's death and just two weeks before the ban among Seattle police went into effect on June 19.