The protester who made national headlines when video surfaced of a Seattle police officer walking a bike over his head during a demonstration Wednesday night on Capitol Hill said he isn’t badly hurt, but that the incident demonstrated police officers’ “disregard for human life.”
Camillo Massagli, 26, who is known for playing the trumpet in local demonstrations, posted an Instagram video Friday night in which he explains that he is safe and would be taking a break from protests over the next couple of days.
“I’m barely hurt,” Massagli said in the video. “I’ve got a little soreness in my temples and a little tweaked neck. Otherwise just fine. I’m not a martyr.”
“It was more of an insult than anything,” Massagli said of the episode with the bike. “But it does show their disregard for human life.”
The bike incident, as well as video from the same night showing a person attacking a police officer with a baseball bat, drew widespread attention amid local and national protests in response to a grand jury’s decision not to indict police officers in Louisville, Kentucky, for the killing of Breonna Taylor.
The King County Sheriff’s Office said it will investigate the bike incident after a request by the civilian-led Office of Police Accountability (OPA) for a criminal inquiry by an outside agency. The officer involved has been placed on paid leave, according to Seattle police.
Seattle police spokesman Detective Patrick Michaud said he wasn’t able to respond to Massagli’s comments because the incident had been forwarded to the King County Sheriff’s Office and OPA.
Police officers’ use of force during demonstrations for racial justice this year has drawn sharp criticism from protesters as well as the former court-appointed monitor overseeing the federal consent decree with Seattle police. Merrick Bobb, who resigned from his role as court-appointed monitor over the consent decree earlier this month, said in a report that Seattle police lacked an overall strategic plan for dealing with the demonstrations and that police had “inadequate sensitivity” for those who showed up to protest.
Protesters have described several injuries from officers using crowd-control weapons during demonstrations the last several months. On Friday, dozens of plaintiffs, including the family of Summer Taylor, the protester killed by a driver on Interstate 5, also filed a lawsuit in King County Superior Court alleging the city of Seattle and Washington state failed to protect protesters from drivers who could hurt or kill them.
Police have also reported attacks from protesters, including kicks, punches, lasers shined in their eyes, and fireworks tossed at them. King County prosecutors charged a 27-year-old man with third-degree assault Friday for allegedly kicking a Seattle police sergeant in the face during an arrest at an anti-police union protest in August.
The investigation into the person striking a police officer with a baseball bat Wednesday night is still active, according to Michaud.
Massagli said in his Instagram video that he empathized with the emotion behind the assault, but explained by email Saturday that he does not support violent attacks on police officers.
“I have personally concluded that artful, peaceful resistance will serve this uprising most effectively in this age, so that is what I engage in,” Massagli wrote. “I do not blame people, however, who conclude that tactics from previous uprisings are necessary.”
Staff reporter Heidi Groover contributed to this report.