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Monday, June 27, 2022

Suit Filed Against Seattle Police for Child Pepper Sprayed During Protest

A father filed a federal lawsuit for pepper-spraying of his son during the 2020 anti-racist Seattle protests. The lawsuit, initiated as a result of the protest action against the death of George Floyd killing by police, alleges assault and negligence caused by Seattle police officers. The suit said Mr. Avery and his son J.A. were joined at the rally by other family and church members.

The police found that the use of pepper spray by the cop was in line with the police department’s policy. The lawsuit called it ‘Extreme and outrageous conduct’. Many others there thought so too. The incident prompted 13,000 complaints to the Seattle Police Department’s Office of Police Accountability.

Mr. Avery’s son was seven years old at the time. The peaceful rally took place in downtown Seattle located near the Westlake Mall on May 30, 2020, five days after the Minneapolis police murder of George Floyd. The rally, , was an authorized demonstration by the city of Seattle, according to Avery’s complaint.

The suit stated that “significant” police presence with officers in full riot gear was at the rally. Officers were assigned to protect people at the rally and the surrounding property. Around midday afternoon, officers pushed their way into a crowd of people attending the rally. This happened after a verbal exchange between demonstrators and police, according to the suit.

Angry officers began deploying pepper-spray that hit a number of people including Mr. Avery and his son J.A. The spray burned their faces. Video can be seen of JA being washed with milk while he is crying. His father said he “immediately felt like his face was on fire” and “was having difficulty breathing.” Avery and J.A. went to the hospital and were diagnosed with chemical burns.

The suit claims the city and the officers discriminated against Avery and his son because they are black and attended the rally. The suit stated, “The use of noxious gases against individuals exercising their constitutional right to speak out about issues of inequity in support of members of a protected class constitutes a violation of the Washington Law Against Discrimination.”

Negligence was also alleged by the officers was “either intentionally or recklessly… Spraying a peaceful seven-year-old child in the face with a noxious gas is extreme and outrageous conduct,” the complaint said.

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