“The pain that shot through my face only lasted so long, but the painful memory is something that I don’t know when will leave me or my family.”
Seattle, WA — On January 19, Jesse Hagopian was pepper sprayed by police while leaving a peaceful Martin Luther King Jr. Day rally and march. The incident was not in dispute as everything that happened was caught on video.
Officers had set up a bicycle barricade to block the march, but some people walked through the blockade, Hagopian did not.
The video clearly shows Hagopian come walking along calmly, minding his own business and talking on his cell phone. At this point, you can hear the officer, in typical jackboot thug fashion shout, “Stand back! Stand back!”
Out of nowhere, Officer Sandra Delafuente let loose a hefty blast of pepper spray into the unexpecting man’s face.
“I felt the piercing pain shoot through my eye, my eardrum and my nostril, all over my cheek and face,” said Hagopian, according to Komo News. “I yelled out. My mom was in distress as she heard me yell.”
Hogopian has since filed a lawsuit. His attorney, James Bible, said Hagopian was pepper-sprayed “irrationally” with “No provocation and no reason,” characterizing the officer’s assault on innocent citizens as a challenge to free speech.
The Office of Professional Accountability recommended a suspension for Delafuente. However, in typical “thin blue line fashion,” Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole defended the officer’s actions and downgraded the suspension to “an oral reprimand.”
Delafuente sprayed an innocent man, on the way home to his kids, in the face with a chemical agent and she is getting off with a stern talking to.
Delafuente proved that she had no place in her role as a public servant. This proof was caught on video, and yet she’s hailed as “good officer” who was merely thrust into a difficult situation — in which she had to pepper spray innocent people.
Imagine any other job on the planet, outside of the government, in which you assaulted an innocent person and not only were you not arrested for it, but you were not fired. It is this double standard of violence with impunity that further drives a wedge between those with authority and everyone else.