February 1, 2011

In May 2009, a 29-year-old Seattle restaurant worker ran from two men dressed in black who may or may not have identified themselves as police. When they caught up with him, one of them gave him what the King County Sheriff’s Office said was a “hard shove.” Security videos of the incident show the victim being knocked headfirst into a wall some eight feet away. He suffered a traumatic brain injury that left him in a coma for months. Finally awake, he can neither speak nor walk. He will likely need round-the-clock care for the remainder of his life.

The criminal investigation into the incident found that the deputy who, outweighing the victim by 100 pounds, delivered the life-changing shove was acting within legal boundaries. The victim’s wife and family, however, filed a civil suit against the deputy, saying he acted negligently and used excessive force. The suit asked for $25 million to cover the costs of care and to compensate the emotional damage suffered by his wife.

The parties recently settled the suit for $10 million. The trial had already started; the jury had heard witnesses testify that the victim had “smashed into the wall,” that the shove had lifted the victim into the air and slammed him against the wall. They had heard that the deputy’s partner had told a paramedic that the victim had run into the wall. Five days into the trial, the parties announced the settlement.

The deputies had been pursuing the victim in the mistaken belief that he had been involved in a bar fight. The victim’s family maintained that he had no idea who the deputies were or why they were after him.

Source: OregonLive.com, “King County pays $10 million to man slammed into wall during chase,” 01/25/11

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