On October 6, 2012 Leo Etherly was detained by Officers Faust, Chin and Campbell of the Seattle Police Department on suspicion of a Hit and Run that occurred some distance away. Officer Eric Faust apparently became agitated at Mr. Etherly’s questions, and when Officer Faust went to arrest Mr. Etherly, Officer Faust choked Mr. Etherly for some time period. At the same time, Officers Chin and Campbell held Leo Etherly’s arms, splaying him out on the hood of the police car. Mr. Etherly’s throat constricted as a result of the choking, causing saliva to pool and resulting in him spitting involuntarily as his airway constricted. Officer Faust believed that Mr. Etherly had spit on him intentionally, and responded by striking Mr. Etherly in the left eye with his fist. Mr. Etherly was dragged to the ground and struck in the face again by Officer Faust.
Mr. Etherly suffered serious injury from this incident, including an orbital floor fracture to his left eye where surgery is being contemplated. He appears to have suffered permanent vertical double vision as a result of being struck twice in the face.
Leo Etherly was never formally charged for Hit and Run but was charged for assault for spitting on Officer Faust. In fact, all three officers claimed to be victims of Mr. Etherly’s spittle. On October 22, the Seattle City Attorney dropped charges against Mr. Etherly ostensibly because his charges were expected to be refiled as a felony. On November 26, the King County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney also declined to file charges.
As early as October 10, Attorney James Egan requested this video to be made a public record. On October 17, that request was denied by the Seattle Police Department for reasons which had no legal basis. James Egan appealed the denial of the record request to Seattle Police Chief Diaz, who initially stated that a response would be given by Thanksgiving Day. On November 21, Mr. Egan was informed that there would be at least 2 more weeks of delay in making the video a public record. On November 27, after intense media pressure, the Seattle Police Department finally authorized the public release of the record. The Police Department also claimed that Officer Faust was being investigated for a “particular use of force” during the arrest by the Office of Professional Accountability.