WATCH: Seattle teacher on phone pepper-sprayed by officer as he walked by police line

SEATTLE -- A Seattle school teacher is suing the city after being pepper-sprayed by a police officer as he walked by a police line during protests on Martin Luther King Jr. Day Jan. 19.

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The incident in the South Lake Union area was caught on camera. Police were blocking streets with their bicycles and shouting for protesters to get back.

That's when Jesse Hagopian says he was hit in the face with pepper spray as he was talking on the phone to his mother and walking by the police line.

"I yelled out, my mom was in distress as she heard me yell and couldn't see me," Hagopian said at a news conference Wednesday to announce his lawsuit against the city.

Hagopian's lawyer, James Bible, said, "It was an irrational action, and that's why we're here." He is suing the city of Seattle for $500,000 in damages.


Hagopian says he spoke out at a peaceful protest earlier in the day and he believes Seattle police targeted him.

City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant is backing the suit against the city.

"I've asked the SPD leadership to explain why such force and intimidation has been used so consistently against the activists in the Black Lives Matter movement," she said.

In a statement Wednesday afternoon, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said the city has worked to create a "comprehensive and transparent police accountability system." Murray added that "the uses of force that occurred during the MLK protests are currently under review and being investigated."

Hagopian said he believes Seattle police need to be held accountable for their actions, and Bible said his client will no longer cooperate with an internal police investigation.

"I want everyone to watch that video and see for themselves," Hagopian said.

Seattle police said they have no comment because there is pending litigation.

The raw video below was released by Hagopian's attorney. Warning: This raw video contains a vulgarity.