A 21-year-old Kent man was one of two pedestrians injured when a Tacoma Police officer responded to a reckless driving event downtown Saturday night, Jan. 23 and struck some of the participants when he drove away from the intersection after people had surrounded his vehicle.
The Kent man was admitted to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries, according to a Jan. 25 update from the Pierce County Force Investigation Team. A 21-year-old Tacoma man was treated and released at a local hospital. The names of the two men have not yet been released by the investigation team.
Several media reports have identified the Tacoma man as Tavon Williams, who gave an interview to television news stations and told them he lived in Spanaway, which is just southeast of Tacoma.
“When the officer arrived participants at the event surrounded his patrol vehicle,” according to the Pierce County Force Investigation Team. “The officer attempted to back up, but was blocked in by the participants. He then drove forward through the crowd striking some of the participants.”
Phan was placed on paid administrative leave per department policy on the evening of Jan. 23, immediately following the incident.
People were gathered for what’s known as a swing (or swinging) meet for cars, where they take over an intersection or road and drivers take turns spinning their cars in a circle, according to one witness at the event. For an example, see this YouTube video.
Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards issued the following statement on Jan. 24:
“For those who woke up this morning feeling outrage, frustration, grief, heartbreak, or confusion, I understand and honor your feelings,” she said. “I, too, am deeply saddened by what we saw last night.
“As a use of deadly force, this incident is being taken very seriously and the scene has appropriately been turned over to the Pierce County Force Investigation Team for independent investigation. As we learn the facts of the case, I have called on the city manager and police chief to ensure that everyone involved is held accountable.
“While we await more information, I want the community to know that I am deeply concerned and praying for everyone who was impacted by last night’s events.”
The Pierce County Force Investigation Team is a team of detectives, forensic investigators, and public information officers from law enforcement agencies throughout Pierce County who investigate use of deadly force incidents involving officers. The multi-agency team operates under the independent investigation criteria set forth by Washington State Administrative Code 139-12-030 of the Law Enforcement Training & Community Safety Act.
Investigators would like to hear from anyone that witnessed the incident or might have video recordings. Please contact the Puyallup Police Department tip line at 253-770-3343 or by email at email@example.com.