SEATTLE - Are Seattle police officers using excessive force? It was a question brought up by the Department of Justice several years ago. Now the FBI is looking into the issue, after a forceful arrest is caught on camera.
“I’m not resisting!”
The cell phone video is shaky, and it’s hard to see what’s going on. But you can hear 18 year old David Pontecorvo plead with Seattle police officers, as he’s being arrested after a noise complaint at his West Seattle home in September 2012.
Linda Anton lived next door to Pontecorvo at the time. She says she saw police officers grab him and pull him down the stairs.
“I said hey wait, I know this guy. He's ok, he's a nice guy. They said stand back. And I thought gosh do I need to call the police on the police?”
Pontecorvo’s attorney says the officers broke his client’s nose and cheekbones, when they hit them with fists and a flashlight.
“It was quite a thrashing, for no reason,” says Dan Fjelstad.
“They just kept tackling him and throwing him on the floor,” adds Anton. “Then they dragged him to the police car. There was a trail of blood from the grass all the way to the police car.”
Pontecorvo, who’s now in Germany for a study abroad program, filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city. Last month the city settled that case, and the FBI learned more about what had happened. They have now opened a Full Civil Rights Color of Law investigation to determine if officers were appropriate with their use of force. Pontecorvo’s attorney says he never expected that.
“Three years after the fact, it surprises me somewhat that the FBI gets involved. I'm pleased that they are.”
He hopes the officers involved are held accountable for their actions. Anton agrees.
“It’s a pretty simple thing,” she says. “The police officers beat him up, they didn't have to.”
The Seattle Police Department released the following statement to Q13 News.
“Upon learning that the Seattle Office of the FBI initiated an investigation into the 2012 arrest of a West Seattle man, Chief O’Toole referred the matter to Office of Professional Accountability Director Pierce Murphy.”