Seattle police under scrutiny for altercation with Metro bus driver

SEATTLE - A video capturing a Seattle police officer's heated exchange with a Metro bus driver has sparked outrage and prompted an investigation by the Seattle Office of Police Accountability (OPA).

The incident, which occurred last Thursday in West Seattle, has since gone viral on social media platforms, igniting discussions about police conduct and abuse of power.

In the video footage, obtained from a rider's cellphone, the Metro bus driver can be heard making a call to dispatch, expressing frustration over being pulled over by an officer in an unmarked police car. The driver explains to the dispatcher that he honked the horn after being cut off, leading to the officer pulling him over.

The encounter quickly escalates into a heated argument between the driver and the officer. The officer accuses the driver of running from him, to which the driver responds that he pulled over to let the officer pass. The video, captioned "Seattle's Finest," has garnered hundreds of comments on social media, with many criticizing the officer's actions as a power trip.

At one point in the video, the officer tells the driver, "Let him know to get another bus down here. You're not driving."

"You going to take me to jail?" the driver says.

"Maybe. Right now you're obstructing," the officer said.

Silent riders on the bus witnessed the exchange, with some expressing confusion and frustration over the situation.

The OPA has launched a preliminary investigation into the incident following numerous complaints of abuse of power. Nickiea Hunter, with Washington's Coalition for Police Accountability, expressed concerns over the officer's behavior, stating, "The most heightening point was when the officer began to use and switch bait his words … to make it seem as though the bus driver had committed a crime."

In response to the controversy, King County Metro released a statement acknowledging the incident and clarifying that there was no arrest or physical confrontation. They stated that Bus Operations is looking into the matter and will meet with the operator to gather more information.

"We are aware that a conversation was filmed by a customer on Thursday, March 28. To be clear, there was no arrest or physical confrontation," King County Metro said in an emailed statement to FOX 13 Seattle. "Preliminary information is that it was a RapidRide C bus traveling on Southwest Avalon Way and Southwest Yancy Street.

"Bus Operations is looking into this matter, which will involve meeting with the operator to get more information and reviewing the video both from the bus and from passengers."

The OPA also released a statement to FOX 13 Seattle confirming that they have received the complaint and have initiated a preliminary investigation. The Director of OPA will review the case file and determine whether further investigation is warranted.

The Seattle Police Department (SPD) has not yet commented on the incident. However, the timing of this controversy is notable as the Police Officers' Guild is currently in negotiations with the city for more pay, including a six-figure starting salary and potential rollbacks of accountability measures.

FOX 13 Seattle reached out to the Police Officers' Guild and SPD for comment but has not received a response. A public information request has been filed to gather more details about the officer involved in the incident. Reports suggest that the officer has faced disciplinary actions in the past.

As the investigation unfolds, the community awaits answers regarding the conduct of the officer and the handling of the situation. Stay tuned for updates as this story develops.

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