A federal judge ruled this month that Seattle police bear no responsibility for the actions of a confidential informant -- a criminal with reputed ties to a Mexican cartel -- who violently attacked another man in 2012.
In coming to that conclusion, the judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by the victim alleging Seattle police had a duty to monitor the informant's activities. The U.S. District Court judge ruled there was “no indication that the informant posed a foreseeable risk to anyone.”
According to the lawsuit, the informant was a Mexican national in the United States illegally. The informant went to a vehicle-repair shop owned by the victim, handcuffed and blindfolded the man at gunpoint and put him in a van with two masked men carrying AK-47 assault rifles. They took his wallet and drove him around for a while saying they were taking him to “the boss.” Eventually, they stopped, peppered him with questions about family members living in Mexico and took his shoes before they all got back in the van. After hitting the victim with a gun, they agreed to release him provided he later pay $20,000. Two days after the incident, a man called asking the victim for the money in exchange for the return of his wallet. When the victim ignored the request, the man called again, threatening to kill the victim if he did not hand over the money. A family member urged the victim to report the incident to police. Investigators were able to track the kidnapper by the cellphone number he used in the extortion attempt.
At the time of the incident, the alleged kidnapper had been a Seattle police informant for six years. Police claim he had no record of violence, only traffic citations.
The victim's attorney said the informant was a member of a drug cartel and “the Seattle Police Department committed gross negligence in employing such an individual.”
In legal parlance, gross negligence is “a lack of care that demonstrates a reckless disregard for the safety or lives of others, which is so great it appears to be a conscious violation of other people's rights to safety.”
After the incident, the informant was charged with robbery, kidnapping, and extortion, all in the first degree. He was not charged with assault. He plead guilty to robbery and the other two charges were dismissed. He was sentenced to prison and released in 2014 to federal immigrations officials on June 30, 2014.
On the first-degree robbery charge alone, the man could have been sentenced to life in prison or a fine of up to $50,000 or both. Robbery in the first degree and kidnapping in the first degree both are Class A felonies. Extortion in the first degree is a Class B felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison or a $25,000 fine or both.
No matter the crime or the circumstances, everyone is entitled to the best defense available. If you have been arrested and face criminal charges, call the Seattle law office of Steve Karimi at (206) 621-8777 or contact him online.