SPD officer under investigation for tactics used in man's arrest

SEATTLE -- A Seattle police officer is under investigation for the way he arrested a hit-and-run suspect. The suspect was badly beaten after police say he spit on them.

Leo Etherly is in a lot of trouble for allegedly assaulting three officers, but the 34-year-old says Seattle police are the ones who jumped him.

"I just want to you know; say that what happened to me shouldn't happen to no one else," Etherly said.

Officers confronted Etherly last Saturday at the corner of 23rd and Union. He matched the description of a hit and run suspect who had just struck a bicyclist a few blocks away.

Police say they tried to question him. Etherly says he was attacked.

"The officer hit me numerous times in my face," he said. "I have fracture... I have to have surgery after the swelling goes down."

Police spotted Etherly leaving a van that also matched the suspect vehicle, but say Etherly wouldn't cooperate.

"This person is resisting and uncooperative from the start," said Seattle Police spokesman Sean Whitcomb. "And that resistance escalates to the point where he refuses to be put in cuffs."

Police say at that point, Etherly assaulted the officers.

"He spat at the officers and struck one officer directly," Whitcomb said. "And the other two had spit on them as well."

Etherly's attorney James Egan says his client was then punched in the face, and now the Office of Professional Accountability is investigating that officer for any possible wrong-doing.

"What we're looking at is a particular tactic that was employed by one of the three officers," Whitcomb said.

Etherly said no one deserves this.

"I didn't want my son to see me, because look at me, I look like a monster," he said.

Court records show Kent Police arrested Etherly in march for an unrelated hit-and-run, but he was ultimately convicted of negligent driving.

The Seattle officer being investigated is a veteran with the department, and remains in the patrol division.