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Man run over by Tacoma police at street race convicted of felonies

Ted S. Warren
/
The Associated Press
Tacoma Police and other law enforcement stand in a intersection near the site of a car crash Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021, in downtown Tacoma, Wash.

In a case that made national news three years ago, a 25-year-old who was run over by a Tacoma police officer's patrol car at a street racing event was found guilty Thursday of obstruction, malicious mischief and unlawful imprisonment.

Pierce County prosecutors accused Anthony Huff-McKay of directing a crowd to surround two Tacoma police cars dispersing over a hundred illegal street race spectators.

Huff-McKay's cell phone video captured him shouting to block the cars. His attorney argued he didn't motivate anyone to block the officers, and others damaged the patrol vehicles unprompted.

Officer Khanh Phan briefly stopped his car amid the crowd, then accelerated forward, running over Huff-McKay and hitting others. The crowd then blocked the other patrol car.

Huff-McKay was hospitalized due to his injuries. In a pending federal lawsuit against Phan and Tacoma, he alleges excessive force and negligence.

The incident occurred in the wake of the death of Manuel Ellis in police custody less than a year earlier. The Washington State Attorney General’s Office was investigating the death of Ellis, who was Black, and city leaders were working to address charges of systemic racism within the police department.

In the hours after Phan struck the crowd, observers and protesters descended on the intersection, including recently elected City Council Member Jamika Scott. This January, a few weeks after being sworn in, Scott, a community organizer who helped found the Tacoma Action Collective, sued the city for unlawful arrest, alleging officers assaulted her and then lied about why in reports. She has told KNKX she shouted "Justice for Manny (Ellis)" just before her arrest.

Some community members and leaders called for Phan to be fired.

About a year and a half after the incident, prosecutors declined to charge Phan, who said he feared for his life. After 30 years on the force, the officer retired before both the criminal review ended and a disciplinary decision was made.

Huff-McKay is scheduled to be sentenced next month.

Jared Brown is a Tacoma-based reporter for KNKX covering the intersections of policing, courts and power with a focus on accountability and solutions. He is currently a Poynter Media and Journalism Fellow. You can email him at jbrown@knkx.org.