U.S

Tacoma police officer 'not a racist criminal,' union insists after pedestrians struck

Police union officials in Tacoma, Wash., blasted city leaders Wednesday for questioning the tactics of an officer seen on video striking a group of pedestrians over the weekend after responding to reports of street-racing.

“With one hand, the city touts that it called for an independent investigation of the incident that occurred downtown Saturday night,” a police union statement reads. “With the other hand, the city passes judgment on the involved officer and all Tacoma police officers by again implying wrongdoing and criminality spurred by racist tendencies.”

Officer Khanh Phan, 58, was placed on administrative leave after the incident left two people injured, Q13 FOX of Seattle reported. Video footage posted on social media appeared to show at least one person struck by the police vehicle that Phan was reportedly driving. 

Interim police Chief Mike Ake said Phan acted the way he did because he feared for his safety after a crowd gathered around the vehicle and started pounding on its windows.

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Tacoma police and other law enforcement vehicles are shown near the site of a car crash Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021, in downtown Tacoma, Wash. (Associated Press)

Tacoma police and other law enforcement vehicles are shown near the site of a car crash Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021, in downtown Tacoma, Wash. (Associated Press)

“Enough. The involved officer — a decorated 30-year officer and member of the Tacoma community with a stellar record who hails from Southeast Asia — is not a racist criminal. He is a human and a dedicated public servant who reacted to a violent mob trying to do him harm,” the statement continued.  

The incident has divided the Tacoma community in recent days. It prompted a crowd to set multiple fires and damage businesses across the street from the Pierce County courthouse on Sunday. A reporter from Seattle’s KIRO-TV posted a video that showed police officers standing outside a business that had its windows shattered.

A trash can burns as people take part in a protest against police brutality, late Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, in downtown Tacoma, Wash. (Associated Press)

A trash can burns as people take part in a protest against police brutality, late Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, in downtown Tacoma, Wash. (Associated Press)

The union is calling for city officials to refrain from judgment until an independent investigation is complete.

“Let them obtain information from officers on scene who were trying to address a violent crowd that had just engaged in repeated and wanton criminal activity in the heart of the city. Let them speak to civilians who endured a mob of street racers unleashing havoc in our streets,” according to the police union statement. 

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“To the city’s leaders: let due process run its course. Stop sacrificing dedicated public servants at the altar of mob rule for political expediency,” the statement continued. “To our community: thank you for your support. Throughout all this, know that we will continue to serve you with honor and integrity in keeping our city safe.”

Protesters chase a street preacher, right, who was using a loudspeaker to deliver a sermon during a protest against police brutality, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, in downtown Tacoma, Wash. (Associated Press)

Protesters chase a street preacher, right, who was using a loudspeaker to deliver a sermon during a protest against police brutality, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, in downtown Tacoma, Wash. (Associated Press)

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Ake said no arrests were made in connection with the illegal street racing on Saturday night because of the “chaotic” scene, Q13 FOX reported. He added that three people were later arrested following the protests in the area. 

Tacoma is located about 30 miles south of Seattle.

Fox News’ Edmund DeMarche contributed to this report.

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