Witnesses explain what led up to controversial SPD altercation

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by CHRIS INGALLS & CHRIS DANIELS / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @ChrisEgan5

NWCN.com

Posted on May 11, 2010 at 5:28 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 11 at 10:33 PM

SEATTLE - Tuesday, KING 5 talked to two men independently – two men who were robbed that night along Westlake Avenue, and both describe and point out a suspect who was seen in that controversial arrest video.

Police haven't said much about the video since it began airing because they say they are continuing to investigate. And they also haven't said a lot about the robbery that lead up to that police stop that we've seen on tape. It happened in Seattle on April 17 at a restaurant called China Harbor, outside in the parking lot.

Today we were finally able to track down two robbery victims - one from Renton, the other from Federal Way.

The Renton man man said he was enjoying a night out with his girlfriend when a man in black approached demanding money.

"I was really scared," he said. "One of the guys pulled his shirt up, had a machete in his pants, and asked for $20."

The Federal Way man encountered a similar suspect about 10 minutes later. He says you can see him in the now infamous video tape.

Police have identified the machete-wielding man in black as Pedro Jose Martinez. He is seen on the tape a short time later when Seattle Police stopped a group of people and two officers stomped on one suspect, and one shouted a racial slur.

One robbery victim says the man who was stomped on was at the scene of the crime. Sources have identified that man as 21-year-old Martin Minetti. He has not been charged in connection with either robbery.

Federal Way man's account

The witness Federal Way man asked that we not use his real name. Twenty-one-year-old "Miguel" identified a man in the video as the person who punched him and hit him with a machete.

Chris Ingalls: As best you can remember, what were his words to you?

Miguel: Give me $5. I was like, no, I don't have $5.

That was the first exchange of words Miguel had with Pedro Jose Martinez in the early hours of April 17.

Miguel says Martinez pulled a 3-foot-long machete from his pant leg and hit him with it.

Miguel: It just ripped my shirt.

Ingalls: Did that surprise you?

Miguel: Yeah, I didn't think he would hit me with it. I turned around I was going to punch him and the other guy starts to move over at me and so I stopped there and when I stopped there he punched me in the face.

Video, shot by a citizen, shows what happened nearby a short time later when police stopped a group of suspects. There were racially-charged words and two stomps by two different officers.

Miguel recognized the man who was stomped as being with the men who tried to rob him.

Miguel: He was there… I was trying to tell them to get away and he was laughing and looking.

Sources have identified the man who was stomped as 21-year-old Martin Minetti, who was not charged with Miguel's robbery or another that happened around the same time.

Pedro Jose Martinez and another man not seen on the video are charged with the robberies.

Even so, what surprises Miguel most after seeing this video for the first time today is the conduct of the officers.

"That still ain't right," he said. "They supposed to be professional and not doing stuff like that."

The two officers that are seen on the video have been temporarily reassigned as the police department continues to investigate.

Both victims say despite what happened to them, the officers' actions in the tape crossed the line.

We should know more about that stomping victim Thursday when he could hold a press conference to finally explain his side of the story.

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