A Seattle man has won a settlement against the city in a case of police brutality that involved officers who have been investigated multiple times for abusing suspects in their custody. The city, which will pay the victim $125,000, decided to settle after appeals court judges made it clear they intended to reverse the decision of a lower-court judge who dismissed the original complaint. Had the appeals court judges reversed the decision, the case could have gone to trial.
The incident that sparked the lawsuit occurred in April 2010 when police responded to the scene of a fight between several men. One of the officers claimed he was assaulted by one of the suspects, whom he handcuffed, placed in the back of the patrol car and allegedly choked. Another officer at the scene said he was in the back seat of the patrol car with the suspect, but he could not remember whether the suspect was choked or not.
The officer suspected of choking the handcuffed suspect previously had been investigated for kicking a robbery suspect after the man was restrained on the ground. The officer also yelled at the suspect, using “ethnically inflammatory language,” before realizing the man had not been involved in the robbery and releasing him.
The other officer, who claimed he could not remember whether the suspect had been choked, has had several civil complaints filed against him for causing injuries to suspects, leading the city of Seattle to pay out nearly $2 million to his victims and their families.
In May 2010, a month after the alleged choking incident, the officer was named in a lawsuit brought by the family of a mentally ill man who suffered severe brain damage when he was beaten and restrained by multiple police officers. The city settled with the family for $1.75 million. A month after the settlement of that lawsuit, the city paid almost $10,000 to a man who suffered a concussion and head injuries during a 2007 arrest at a drive-in restaurant. The lawsuit accused the same officer of using excessive force during the arrest. And, in 2015, the city settled with a $55.000 settlement to a woman who said the same officer shoved her, breaking her hand and dislocating her shoulder during a 2011 incident. Most of the incidents were caught on videotape.
A 2011 United States Department of Justice investigation concluded members of the Seattle Police Department used excessive force on multiple occasions, often against suspects who were restrained and unable to defend themselves. The Department of Justice mandated the department adopt reforms to prevent future incidents of excessive use of force. Nevertheless, the two officers in these incidents were, as recently as last year, still employed by the police department.
Regardless of the circumstances, if you have been arrested, you deserve the best defense. Call the Seattle law office of Steve Karimi at (206) 621-8777 or contact him online.