When Bjorn Sarmiento arrived at the Redmond Transit Center from north Seattle on Jan. 16, friends say he was excited to spend another day of skateboarding at the Edge Skate Park. In his typical routine, Sarmiento would venture the hour-long bus trip to meet with friends to grind away and attempt tricks.
This time, things were different. When Sarmiento stepped from the bus platform and his board hit the pavement, police reports state he took a diagonal path across the street, forgoing the use of any marked pedestrian crossing. A Redmond bike officer witnessing the action told Sarmiento to stop.
What transpired next has some questioning the behavior of the Redmond Police Department (RPD).
A video posted by the Instagram user @bigbluecarl, whose real name is Alex Harr, shows Sarmiento being arrested by two Redmond police officers. Sarmiento glides onto the screen and is soon encountered by two officers on bikes. He skates into one of the officers. The other approaches him from behind.
Some bullshit yesterday. Bjorn arrested for JAYWALKING… They tried to tell us our reaction to the whole situation influenced what they did with our friend. Fuck that. Just because your childhood was shit and now you’re a power-hungry asshole working in an area with low crime rates doesn’t mean you can bully people around. Look how much Bjorn was “resisting”. Only city I know that needs 5 cop cars, an ambulance, and a fire truck to arrest 1 fuckin guy. We love you Bjorn, hope you’re doing alright ❤️ FUCK RPD.
2,727 Likes, 533 Comments – @bigbluecarl on Instagram: “Some bullshit yesterday. Bjorn arrested for JAYWALKING… They tried to tell us our reaction to the…”
“Stop,” one officer says, as she holds her hand out in front of her.
The other officer chimes in, “Step away from the board.”
Sarmiento’s dark backpack is removed and flung to the ground. His arms placed behind his back and handcuffs latched on.
The video of the incident was posted Jan. 17. It has been edited to 43 seconds and as of Jan. 23, more than 22,000 people have viewed the video.
In a statement from the city of Redmond released Jan. 23, officials wrote that complaints against officers are taken seriously and after reviewing the video posted online and investigating the arrest, they “found no wrongdoing by the arresting officers.”
“The Redmond Police Department does not arrest people in Redmond for jaywalking, but does arrest individuals who are obstructing,” the statement noted.
The Reporter reached out to Sarmiento for comment. In response, he said he is speaking with an attorney and declined to comment.
Harr recounts that day, calling the incident “crazy.”
“He was really excited to get off the bus and skate with friends,” Harr said.
Harr admitted Sarmiento took a diagonal approach but argued that Sarmiento didn’t hear the officers yelling for him to stop.
“Everyone who’s been around Bjorn knows his board is super loud,” Harr said. “It’s hard to hear people when he’s skating…When they did stop him, he didn’t resist at all.”
In a narrative written by the officer in a police report, the officer says Sarmiento had “looked straight at” the officer — wearing a full police uniform and riding a marked patrol bike — and continued forward on his skateboard toward the skate park. When the officer again yelled “Police, you need to stop right now,” the report says Sarmiento looked back over his shoulder but continued forward.
“I told the male that he was detained for obstructing and he said, ‘Seriously for jaywalking? I was excited to see my friend at the skatepark and that’s why I went across the street,’” the officer wrote in the report. “I told the male that I understood his excitement but still needed to obey all pedestrian laws.”
After officers questioned Sarmiento on his identification, he was informed that he was being arrested for obstruction — for not stopping when given multiple commands to do so.
A backpack search revealed Sarmiento, just two days shy of his 21st birthday, was in possession of marijuana, psilocybin mushrooms and more than $500. Inside his wallet, officers discovered a piece of notebook paper with names, descriptions and dollar amounts. Officers alleged this to be a “ledger” of some kind. All of the items are part of the investigation and were booked into evidence.
Sarmiento was transported to South Correctional Entity Regional Jail in Des Moines where he was booked and spent 24 hours in jail.
An online crowdfunding effort on GoFundMe.com has amassed $620 to go toward helping Sarmiento acquire a civil rights attorney.
Erica Jones, who identifies herself as Sarmiento’s sister on the fundraising page, wrote that officers singled him out that day for being a person of color. Sarmiento is of Asian descent.
“And he didn’t resist whatsoever,” she wrote. “His hands were to his side and he was completely taken back by this arrest. Even with jaywalking, that is a ticket offense and not an arrest.”
In addition, Jones wrote that the money taken from his wallet was gifted for his birthday.
“This is an outrage,” she wrote. “He is a college student and I personally gave him some of that birthday money, along with his grandmother … He is the kindest guy. He would never harm anyone and he is not a criminal.”