A shocking video from Washington state shows a Tacoma Police patrol car running right into a crowd of pedestrians while trying to break up an illegal street race. According to a report by The News Tribune, at least one person was hospitalized after the incident. Another video from the scene appears to show the police running over a person.
Police were called to the intersection of South 9th and Pacific Avenue in Tacoma on Saturday night over complaints of dozens of pedestrians making noise and blocking the street. Witnesses anonymously confirmed to the Tribune that it was an impromptu street race, with cars pulling stunts and dominating the roads at high speeds. Still, as videos from the scene circulate on social media, many are questioning why the police accelerated into a crowd of pedestrians and how they expected that to help de-escalate the situation.
CORRECTION: WARNING - STRONG LANGUAGE A police vehicle in Tacoma, Washington, plowed through a crowd after responding to street racers in the city, as seen in a video obtained by @Reuters. We deleted a previous tweet that included an incorrect courtesy pic.twitter.com/0LZWlvJAX0— Reuters (@Reuters) January 24, 2021
City Manager Elizabeth Pauli told the reporters that the officer driving that car has been placed on leave and that the Pierce County Force Investigation team will review the incident. She said that she would await their analysis of whether this was a case of excessive force but said: "The most important thing to know is we're very concerned of any injuries this evening."
The video shows a crowd of about three dozen people defiantly milling about in the street while police sirens went off. The person who shot the video above — identified only as Mark — said that the crowd had already been scattered and then reassembled at least once by then. He said "a lot of people swarmed" in the direction of the police car, and he believed "they were intending to block him."
Tacoma Police spokesperson Wendy Haddow said that the officer inside the car felt differently. She explained: "He was afraid they would break his glass," and he felt he needed to speed through the crowd for his own safety. She also added that the officer immediately called the incident in.
An analysis by Motor and Wheels notes that most state and local police cars manufactured after 2015 are bulletproof, to some extent. Bulletproof glass windows are often impractical, but starting in 2017, many departments began using bullet-resistant window inserts. It is not clear when the Tacoma Police last updated their vehicles or whether the fear of a shattered window was practical in this case.
The last update on the person hospitalized in this incident said they suffered a laceration, but no further details on their injuries were released. Pauli said that the local officials are waiting for more information as well.