Seattle cops blasted for macing seven-year-old and causing burns after video goes viral: 'You did a great job'
Mando Avery said his son had been traumatized from the incident and keeps asking if he deserved it
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON: Police officers in Seattle have been accused of pepper-spraying a seven-year-old boy and causing chemical burns during what was described as a peaceful protest in the wake of George Floyd's Memorial Day death.
On Saturday, May 30, Mando Avery said he and his family drove nearly an hour north from Tacoma, Washington, to be a part of the burgeoning anti-racism movement and speak out against police brutality.
He told the Guardian that he didn't think much of bringing his seven-year-old son, who has not been named to protect his identity because he spotted several other families at the protest site who had come with their children and pets and that it seemed safe.
It did start well, with Avery, his son, and three generations of his African-American family praying with members of their church as protesters walked about them. But then, it all went horribly wrong.
Avery said a police officer, without warning, fired mace at the group and that it hit his son squarely in the face. The aftermath was captured on video by Evan Hreha, 34, a hairstylist, and posted on social media, where it has been viewed thousands of times.
You can watch the video here.
In the video, the young boy can be seen screaming and clutching his father as fellow protesters pour milk on his face and offer him water. They also try to calm him down and tell him, "It's going to be OK," before demanding to know why police had maced a child and not offered help.
Avery said that officers and a group of emergency medical technicians were standing just a block away but did nothing. "No officer, who’s paid to protect, chose to stand up, break the ranks, go help this child," he said. "I just don’t understand how any of them can sleep."
He shared that his son had suffered a chemical burn, was still traumatized from the attack, and keeps asking him if he deserved it. Asked what he wants to tell the police, Avery replied, "I would say that you were targeting my boy. I don’t know if you were trying to set an example and strike fear into him. You did a great job."
That incident was seemingly not an isolated one. After the first weekend of protests in Seattle, the city's Office of Police Accountability (OPA) reported receiving at least 12,000 complaints, the majority of which were related to Avery's son.
But it was not just Avery's son who suffered repercussions from the incident, A week later, Hreha was surrounded and confronted by at least seven police officers as he was returning home after spending an evening helping a friend hand out free hot dogs to protesters.
They told him he had been identified as someone who had pointed a laser in an officer's eye and promptly arrested him. While there was no proof of the allegations, he was denied bail and held in jail for two days before he was released.
The OPA said it did not know of Hreha's arrest but that the "child pepper spray case" was "currently being investigated" and they would "have a public update on the progress soon."