A federal judge has found the Seattle Police Department in contempt for violating an order to stop the "indiscriminate" use of chemical irritants or projectiles against protesters except in cases where officers faced imminent danger.
The Monday ruling by Judge Richard Jones of the Western District of Washington in Seattle said the department had failed to prove that its use of pepper spray, Pepperballs, blast balls and paint balls during four 2020 protests was warranted.
However, after reviewing a trove of evidence, including videos and police reports, Jones said officers were justified in responding with those weapons in another four instances.
The SPD had justified the blast balls, pepper spray, pepper balls and paint balls saying they are imperative to creating separation between protesters and officers. But Jones said that's not an authorized basis to use the weapons, NPR reports.
Jones did find the department was in compliance with the order in four confrontations, including after an officer was hit in the head with a bat. He sprayed several protesters with pepper spray while making his way back behind police lines. In another incident, an officer threw a blast ball into a crowd to reroute protesters after a Molotov cocktail was thrown, nearly hitting a demonstrator.