Locals express concern over video of police using force at state fair
YAKIMA, Wash. - Locals are expressing concern after video was taken that captures police using force to break up a fight Sunday evening at the Central Washington State Fair.
The video shows a group of teens fighting and a Yakima police officer kicking one of the teens in the back to the ground.
Dulce Fernandez said she was at the fair Sunday night with her friends and family and she says things escalated quickly.
"It was really scary when it happened not cause I was afraid of getting hit or something but because I was afraid for all the children around," Fernandez said. "I had two younger siblings that were also there and they started crying when they saw everything."
Yakima Police Captain Gary Jones said around 9:30 p.m., six officers were called to the fairgrounds. When they arrived, more than a dozen teens were fist-fighting and police tried to break it up.
"Officers waded in, tried to get things under control and it apparently took more than just giving verbal orders," Jones said.
Fernandez said her friend, a 17-year-old was kicked in the back by a police officer when he didn't get on the ground, which she thinks was unnecessary.
"It could have been handled very differently," she said.
Captain Jones said he doesn't know what led up to the kick but police will be investigating.
"I think any time the use of force like that is put on, there's a shock value to the community," he said. "While we certainly want to serve the public with humility and respect there are situations that can spin out of control."
Police said they are reviewing video, talking to witnesses and trying to determine if the officer's use of force is justified or if anything could have been done differently so they can hold people accountable.
Many in the community are looking for answers but Captain Jones said their investigation could take weeks or even months before any action against the officer could be taken if any.
Police said four of the teens involved were arrested and escorted off the fairgrounds.
Captain Jones says if you were at the fair last night and have any video or witnesses what happened you are asked to contact police.
Yakima Police released a statement Monday regarding the investigation over the events leading up to the arrests.
The Yakima Police Department has been made aware of a video posting that involves a Yakima police officer using force while effecting an arrest last night. Maintaining public trust is one of our highest priorities, and in doing so, investigators will be collecting all available evidence as it pertains to a use of force review. Police officers are often faced with difficult situations that require immediate assessment of circumstances in order to protect the community and themselves. I want to assure our community that use of force reviews are conducted in an objective, meticulous manner that requires layers of oversight. Anyone with information concerning this event is encouraged to contact the department and share what information they may have.
The men and women of the Yakima Police Department are dedicated to serve our community with humility and respect. We strive to foster a community relationship that emphasizes accountability as one of its values.