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Seattle Police Open Investigation After Officer Appeared To Mace A Young Girl During George Floyd Protests

CORRECTION 5:30pm ET June 2, 2020: An earlier version of this article said the officer identified on the scene was the one who pepper sprayed the little girl but Seattle Police have concluded he was not the officer who did so. We edited accordingly and swapped out the featured image to reflect this change.

What began as non-violent protests sweeping across the nation after Minneapolis police were implicated in the death of George Floyd—an unarmed Black man who yelled he couldn't breathe as an officer knelt on his neck for almost ten minutes while two other officers held him down--turned violent in cities around the country.

Over the weekend, outraged people took to the streets holding signs and chanting a variety of slogans to speak out citing years of systemic racism and racial bias in law enforcement and the justice system. The protests led to clashes with police and National Guard personnel in several states.

One incident involved a young girl in Seattle filmed crying after an officer allegedly pepper-sprayed her in the face as police descended upon protestors.

Buzzfeed News said that the Seattle Police Department would not confirm the identity of the officer who maced the child, but an investigation into the incident concluded that the officer initially identified as the one who maced the child did not in fact do so.

Kelsey Nyland of the police department's Joint Information Center said:

"Uses of force, including pepper spray, during the demonstrations will undergo a high level of scrutiny and review by the chain of command."
"This incident in particular has been referred to the [Office of Police Accountability] and an investigation has commenced."

That investigation concluded that the officer initially identified as the one who deployed pepper spray did not in fact do so.

The actual moment where she was maced was not captured on camera, but video shows a parent trying to comfort her as she cries.

Nearby protesters are seen spritzing her with water and drenching her face in milk—which is known to be a soothing agent to the affected area but does not remove the oil—as she continues to shriek from the pain. Some posts of the video include the name of a Seattle police officer, but department officials say he is not the one who maced the little girl.

Warning: this video may be disturbing to some viewers

Twitter user, Julián Torres, told the news outlet he transferred the video onto his computer before it was removed.

"After I got it on my laptop, I refreshed ... and the video for sure was already taken down within the first 5 minutes."
"Some people said that they took it down because it showed the little girl's face."

The original footage was shot by Evan Hreha and was shared by 28-year-old Seattle native, Kayvon Behroozian—who was not at the protest.

Hreha said that the protest was initially peaceful before the pepper spraying incident.

"I was walking around and observing — everyone was peaceful. There was some heckling at the cops but that was to be expected."

Hreha said the thing that made him hit the record button was when he witnessed law enforcement "pushing a sign."

"The next thing you know, the little girl and others were running out screaming."
"They had been maced and that's when I started filming. Everybody on the left side of the street were all saying that it was officer Campbell [who maced]."

Hreha approached an officer whose badge number was covered but identified him as "J. Campbell"—the person the crowd initially accused of spraying the girl.

Hreha filmed himself confronting Campbell, who did not engage with him.

Hreha said of the silent officer:

"When I went back over and started filming him, he was really stone faced and smirking a little bit."
"People were asking why he did it. Everyone else gave their badge numbers willingly and he just sat stone-faced and didn't say anything."


However, the department said Campbell was not the culprit.

According to The Stranger, Seattle City Council member Lisa Herbold stated:

"The officer that was identified as the perpetrator is not the individual who dispersed the pepper spray."
"The officer previously identified... did not actually deploy pepper spray, according to the Seattle Office of Police Accountability (OPA)."

Herbold added:

"But they have been investigating the proper person, the officer who deployed the pepper spray on Saturday."

The OPA confirmed:

"Contrary to numerous social media posts, a preliminary review of video indicates that @SeattlePD Officer Jared Campbell was NOT the involved officer in the pepper spraying of a young girl on Saturday."

Some people asked why a parent would bring a child to a protest.

But Torres responded:

"When I said it was a PEACEFUL protest, it's because it was."
"Stay till the end 'I CAN SMELL THE PEPPER SPRAY.' So YES, I would bring my child to a PEACEFUL protest where no violence is intended. Check your police before you check the others."

He wasn't alone in his beliefs.

But his point of view remained challenged by Twitter users, like @WriteOnMe7.

"No protest is peaceful. We have seen this for many years. There is always violence going on. No excuse for a little girl being there!!"

A representative for the SPD said:

"Uses of force, including pepper spray, during the demonstrations will undergo a high level of scrutiny and review by the chain of command."
"This incident in particular has been referred to the (Office of Police Accountability) and an investigation has commenced."

The Seattle police arrested 57 people on Saturday and the SPD reported no serious injuries.

The Department said hundreds of buildings were damaged and there were at least eight vehicles set ablaze.