At least one pedestrian was hospitalized as a result of the incident, Q13 FOX of Seattle reported.
Police had responded to the area on reports of drivers performing “burnouts” and “doughnuts” in the street, attracting spectators, according to reports and videos on social media.
About 100 spectators and several vehicles were blocking a downtown intersection, a statment from the Tacoma Police Department said.
When the police cruiser arrived, members of the crowd gathered around the vehicle, hitting it and appearing to threaten police — prompting the officer to attempt to extricate himself.
“The officer, fearing for his safety, tried to back up but was unable to do so because of the crowd,” the statement said, adding the officer’s lights and siren were on when he forward, with members of the crowd falling to the side or hurrying to get out of the vehicle’s path.
WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO
“He was afraid they would break his glass,” Tacoma police spokeswoman Wendy Haddow said, according to the News Tribune of Tacoma.
The officer at the wheel stopped the cruiser when it was safe and called for medical aid, the statement added.
“I am concerned that our department is experiencing another use-of-deadly-force incident,” interim Tacoma police Chief Mike Ake said in the statement. “I send my thoughts to anyone who was injured in tonight’s event, and am committed to our Department’s full cooperation in the independent investigation and to assess the actions of the department’s response during the incident.”
The department has turned over the investigation to the Pierce County Force Investigation Team, the statement said.
The officer will be placed on leave during the investigation, Tacoma City Manager Elizabeth Pauli told The News Tribune.
It was not immediately clear if the officer or any of the pedestrians involved in the reported street racing would be facing charges — although video posted by a reporter for the Tacoma News Tribune appeared to show members of the crowd being led away in handcuffs.
A group of protesters gathered at the scene following the incident, according to a Q13 FOX reporter.
The Tacoma Police Department did not immediately respond to a Fox News after-hours request for comment.