By Eric M. Johnson
SEATTLE (Reuters) - A Seattle police officer who punched an intoxicated 23-year-old woman in the head as he arrested her in June over allegations that she threatened a family member will not face criminal charges, prosecutors said on Friday.
The decision not to charge Seattle police officer Adley Shepherd with felony second-degree assault comes amid a wave of demonstrations nationally over police use of force, especially against black people. In this case, both the officer and the woman are black.
Shepherd punched Miyekko Durden-Bosley after the woman allegedly kicked the officer as he arrested her on June 22, according to a police memo obtained by Reuters.
"Evidence reviewed in the case shows that Officer Shepherd acted professionally and with restraint up to the point where he was kicked in the head by the suspect as she was being placed into the patrol car," King County prosecutors said in a statement.
"Officer Shepherd reacted instantaneously to the kick by the suspect, who was wearing boots, with one punch to the suspect's head which caused a fracture of an orbital socket," it said.
Durden-Bosley was intoxicated and argumentative, the police memo said. After she kicked him, Shepherd recoiled and said, "She kicked me," and punched Durden-Bosley once in the face, according to the memo.
While video does not clearly show Durden-Bosley's foot striking Shepherd, and a local hospital that treated the pair said the officer suffered no significant injury, Shepherd complained of pain, and another officer reported he appeared to be dazed and had difficulty talking, the memo said.
Prosecutors said that while Shepherd may have had other options or alternatives, they would be unable to prove his use of force was criminal.
In cases in which an officer injures a suspect, Washington state law places the burden on the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the use of force was not necessary.
The police memo said Shepherd's actions may be inconsistent with Seattle Police Department training and use-of-force policies and expected the matter to be examined by the department's Office of Professional Accountability.
The police department has said it placed Shepherd on paid administrative leave while it investigates the incident. Shepherd could not immediately be reached for comment.
(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Will Dunham)