SEATTLE - A Seattle police officer accused in the videotaped kicking of a youth inside a convenience store has been charged with fourth-degree assault.
The city attorney charged 42-year-old Officer James Lee on Wednesday after reviewing an independent State Patrol investigation. The patrol was brought into the case at the request of Seattle Police Chief John Diaz.
Conviction on the gross misdemeanor is punishable by a maximum year in jail and $5,000 fine.
Lee's lawyer Peter Offenbecher tells The Seattle Times his client is innocent and they plan a vigorous defense. The Oct. 18 encounter happened shortly after Seattle police were attacked nearby during a narcotics buy-bust operation.
The African-American youth has filed a claim against the city for $450,000.
The U.S. Justice Department recently launched a formal civil rights investigation into the Seattle Police Department after several incidents of force used against minorities.