Home / Badge Abuse / Man Peacefully Walking During MLK Day Rally Blasted with Pepper Spray by Cop

Man Peacefully Walking During MLK Day Rally Blasted with Pepper Spray by Cop

“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, Wash. – The city of Seattle is being sued by Jesse Hagopian after he was pepper sprayed by police while leaving a peaceful Martin Luther King Jr. Day rally and march on Jan. 19.

The suit claims that police lacked cause to douse him with pepper spray shortly after giving a speech at the rally discussing how “black lives matter,” and seeks $500,000 in damages.

According to the Seattle Times,

Jesse Hagopian, a history teacher who gave a speech during the event, says in the claim that as he began to head home in the afternoon to celebrate his 2-year-old son’s birthday, he was walking on the sidewalk in the South Lake Union area talking to his mother on the phone when the officer sprayed him.

During the press conference, Hagopian’s attorney, James Bible, said Hagopian was pepper-sprayed “irrationally” with “No provocation and no reason,” Bible said, characterizing the officer’s assault on innocent citizens as a challenge to free speech.

The video of the incident shows a few officers, including the one that sprayed Hagopian, standing at a police barricade barking orders at the few peaceful demonstrators.

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, as you hear the officer, in typical jackboot thug fashion shout, “Stand back! Stand back!”

Out of nowhere the officer blasts Hagopian with the pepper spray, hitting him in the face.

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“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.”

Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole said Wednesday she couldn’t comment on Hagopian’s claim because it is a legal matter.

“(Jesse) was pepper sprayed irrationally by a police officer – no provocation and no reason,” said Bible. “We view this as a challenge to free speech.”

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray weighed in, in an emailed statement stating,

“We have worked to create and implement a comprehensive and transparent police accountability system that will be the most robust in the nation. Under the accountability system that we’ve set up, the uses of force that occurred during the MLK protests are currently under review and being investigated.”

As the old adage goes, a picture is truly worth a thousand words. The utter contempt some cops show for citizens was on full display for the world to see in this still shot of the heinous assault by officer.


According to Hagopian, the most difficult part isn’t the physical pain that was inflicted upon him:

“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.”

The incident was captured on video and uploaded to YouTube Wednesday, the same day Hagopian’s attorney filed a claim against the city.

Jay Syrmopoulos is an investigative journalist, freethinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs. Jay’s work has previously been published on BenSwann.com and WeAreChange.org. You can follow him on Twitter @sirmetropolis, on Facebook at Sir Metropolis and now on tsu.

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  • danwat1234

    Well, that was uncalled for. Any updates?

  • Dark_Space

    As always, if we turned the tables and a citizen did that to an officer, we would without doubt expect the citizen to be charged with assault and be successfully sued for damages. The officer should be held to an even higher standard as a representative of the public.

    • davewisor

      If you hold the police to a higher standard then you should compensate in a like manor. If what you want is the best of the best but want to pay just enough to fill the ranks, please shut up.

      • Dark_Space

        The ranks don’t need filling, but if they did and this was a job of interest to me (I’m a medic), then I would expect to be held to a higher standard. When you go into any group and look at the elite sub-groups, they are held to the highest standards within the group (Green Berets, SWAT, etc). I actually work with a ton of LEOs and I would be floored if they expected to be held to a lower standard.

        To ask to be held to a lower standard is perhaps the most pathetic cowardly thing one could ask for.

      • Dark_Space

        “pay just enough to fill the ranks” – average patrol officer pay in Seattle is more than the median HOUSEHOLD with two jobs income, and that’s at the patrol officer level. The starting pay for a recruit working regular hours is over $55k or $27.52/hour.

        So, if you want the best, and pay top dollar, then you should hold your officers to the highest possible standards and expect top performance – there, fixed it for you.

  • vegas jack

    Just another coward with a badge earning the public’s hate and sometimes, bullets…they have only themselves to blame.

  • FeshonALfliP

    Dissolve the force. They clearly do more harm than good to the community.

  • Zeconte

    Though Mr. Hagopian won a $100,000 settlement over this incident, the officer in question was never actually disciplined for her actions. She was recommended a 1 day suspension without pay by Seatle’s “comprehensive and transparent police accountability system” but instead, she was only “verbally reprimanded” (assuming they even did that rather than simply saying that’s what they did. And, even if they did, I’d imagine the “verbal reprimand” went something along the lines of “the next time you pepper spray innocent protestors, make sure there’s no cameras rolling!”


  • calilife4me

    That tramp deserves a punch to her face!

  • Liz O’neill

    that poor police woman, she was in absolute fear of her life, after all he was black, unarmed and dared to walk on a public street with his mother, we can only be grateful she didn’t execute both him and his mother, but we can all be safe in the knowledge that when her colleges investigate her, they will find she did nothing wrong, and send her out to attack more innocent civillians.

  • Carlo Meloni

    pigs need to be cut in bacon

  • Not pro Israel

    I have yet to see a cop be a “Hero”. Heros get no paycheck.