Woman, 19, pleads not guilty in Seattle jaywalking incident
One of two teens at the center of a jaywalking arrest that has prompted a review by Seattle police pleaded not guilty Thursday to a charge of obstruction.
Seattle Times staff reporters
One of two teens at the center of the jaywalking stop that unleashed a torrent of public reaction and prompted a review by Seattle police pleaded not guilty Thursday to a charge of obstructing a police officer.
After entering the plea to the charge, a gross misdemeanor, in Seattle Municipal Court, a judge allowed Marilyn Ellen Levias, 19, to remain free on her personal recognizance.
Officer Ian P. Walsh was attempting to stop Levias for jaywalking on Monday afternoon in Rainier Valley when her 17-year-old friend, Angel L. Rosenthal, intervened. In an incident caught on video, Rosenthal is seen pushing Walsh, who responds by punching her in the face.
Levias and Rosenthal were arrested. The King County Prosecutor's Office is considering whether to charge Rosenthal with third-degree assault on a police officer.
Seattle City Attorney Peter Holmes said he decided to charge Levias because her conduct in the video "reflects the cardinal rule that civilians simply must comply with instructions from police officers." But he also criticized police leaders Thursday for the officer's handling of the incident, saying they had not developed a strategic plan for dealing with jaywalking issues at the intersection where the incident occurred (at Martin Luther King Jr. Way South and Rainier Avenue South, near a pedestrian overpass).
Earlier this week, Interim Seattle Police Chief John Diaz ordered a review of the department's training procedures because of the incident. Diaz said he had also asked for immediate recommendations from his training unit to improve de-escalation training, acknowledging the department hadn't done enough to teach de-escalation techniques.
Levias was charged in February 2009 with third-degree assault after she allegedly pushed a King County sheriff's deputy.
According to charging documents, on Feb. 3, 2009, deputies were called to the Ruth Dykeman Children's Center, a Burien center for troubled girls, in response to a report that Levias was being abusive toward staff. When Levias was confronted by Deputy Amy Zarelli, she pushed the female deputy, causing her to fall, charging papers said.
Levias was given a deferred disposition — meaning the charge would be dropped if she stayed out of trouble — because it was a first-time offense.
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