A Tacoma cop who drove police SUV into crowd is on paid leave. One injured victim said he is 'forever scarred'

Taylor Ardrey
·2 min read
tacoma protest
Protesters gather outside the Pierce County Jail during a protest against police brutality, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, in downtown Tacoma, Wash., south of Seattle. AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

The police officer who drove his car into a group of people in Tacoma, Washington, leaving at least two people injured, was placed on paid administrative leave amid an investigation into the incident.

The incident happened Saturday night when a police car rammed into pedestrians who were observing street racers. As Insider previously reported, the event was recorded on video and shared online and shows a group of people surrounding the SUV before the officer hit the crowd and drove off.

"During the operation, a responding Tacoma police vehicle was surrounded by the crowd. People hit the body of the police vehicle, and its windows as the officer was stopped in the street. The officer, fearing for his safety, tried to back up, but was unable to do so because of the crowd," Tacoma police said in a statement on Saturday.

According to the statement, when the officer tried to "extricate himself from an unsafe position, the officer drove forward, striking one individual and may have impacted others. The officer stopped at a point of safety and called for medical aid. One person was transported to an area hospital."

The Seattle Times reported that protests erupted in downtown Tacoma on Sunday, calling for the officer involved to be held responsible.

"We want to see the officer actually fired and charged," a Tacoma protester told the Seattle Times. "Paid vacation isn't a punishment."

On Monday, the department announced the officer involved is Khanh Phan, a veteran officer who had nearly 30 years on the job and was placed on paid leave the evening of the incident. According to the police statement, the Pierce County Force Investigation Team is investigating.

Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards said she has "called on the City Manager and Police Chief to ensure that everyone involved is held accountable" in a Twitter post on Monday.

Tavon Williams, who says he was injured during the incident, told CNN it left him "forever scarred." He told the network he wasn't among the crowd who surrounded the officer's vehicle.

"The people that (were) out there, (they weren't) harming anybody and for the police to come to actually harm people and then leave ... (I feel) so violated and I just want my justice," Williams told the publication.

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