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caption: Bystander Mark Mathura says he thought police would quiet the scene at 9th & Pacific on Saturday, January 23, 2021.
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Bystander Mark Mathura says he thought police would quiet the scene at 9th & Pacific on Saturday, January 23, 2021.
Credit: Courtesy: Mark Mathura

Graphic video: Tacoma police officer rams car through crowd, runs over one person

Multiple videos posted to social media Saturday show a Tacoma Police Department cruiser speeding through a large crowd in downtown Tacoma, knocking many people down and driving over at least one person. A Tacoma police spokesperson said the incident will now be investigated by an outside agency.

One of the videos shared online was recorded by Mark Mathura who was at dinner with friends nearby. Mathura said the commotion began when he heard what sounded to him like street racing.

Less than a block away he heard screeching tires and smelled burning rubber. Outside he saw at least five cars had blocked the intersection of South 9th Street and Pacific Avenue to do donuts. Dozens of people were watching the cars and cheering them on, Mathura said.

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This was the scene at 9th and Pacific on Saturday, January 23, 2021 before police arrived.
Credit: Courtesy: Mark Mathura

After a few minutes a single Tacoma police cruiser appeared with lights and sirens on. Mathura thought that would mean an end to the action.

“I thought what we would see once police arrived was a settling or breaking up of the scene,” Mathura said, “but what happened was the exact opposite.”

In Mathura’s video a group of people surround the police car and prevent it from going through the intersection. It stops momentarily before slowly backing up.

Suddenly the car flies forward and the crowd erupts in screams. Multiple people go tumbling onto the street as they are knocked down by the speeding vehicle. In the most disturbing moment of the chaos, at least one person is clearly seen beneath the officer’s wheels. The cruiser then flees the scene without slowing down.

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Graphic warning: a Tacoma Police officer appears to ram a group of people with his vehicle, knocking many over and driving one person over on Saturday, January 23, 2021.
Credit: Courtesy: Mark Mathura

A spokesperson for the Tacoma Police Department said during the incident the officer feared for his safety and while trying to “extricate himself from an unsafe position, the officer drove forward striking one individual and may have impacted others.” Tacoma police also said the officer called for medical aid after leaving the area.

Tacoma Fire Department Assistant Chief Alex Wilsie said they transported one person to a nearby hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Their condition is unknown at this time.

No potential disciplinary action for the officer was mentioned in the Tacoma Police Department statement. They said the investigation will now be handled by the Pierce County Force Investigation Team.

Tacoma Interim Police Chief Mike Ake said in the statement that he sends his “thoughts to anyone who was injured in tonight’s event and am committed to our department’s full cooperation in the independent investigation and to assess the actions of the department’s response during the incident.”