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City of Seattle
Ed Murray, Mayor

SUBJECT: City prevails in lawsuits against SPD officers

4/23/2012  4:00:00 PM
Kimberly Mills  (206) 684-8602

Two cases stemming from the actions of Seattle police officers in 2009 were resolved last week in the City’s favor.

On April 20 King County Superior Court Judge John P. Erlick dismissed a suit brought by the parents of Joseph Bernard Hradec, who was shot and killed in a confrontation with officers who responded to a domestic disturbance call on Jan. 14, 2009 at the Seals Motel in North Seattle where a female victim hysterically reported that she was being assaulted. Hradec failed to comply with police commands to let the victim go and give himself up. Instead he sprayed what police called a “chemical irritant" at the officers before coming at them with a large knife; police first used a Taser but that failed to subdue him.

The motion for summary judgment by the City’s attorney, Stephen Larson of Stafford Frey Cooper, argued that "the officers' use of force was lawful and reasonable and the officers are entitled to qualified immunity in their use of force." Previously, a King County inquest jury found the officers' use of force justified.

In the second case, a federal jury reached a verdict in favor of the officer and rejected Demetrius James’ claim that the officer committed an assault by shooting him with a Taser through the open window of the car James was driving on July 6, 2009. Officers said they were attempting to investigate James’ car at 1917 S. Jackson St. because it had mismatched plates when James tried to flee, prompting one officer to fire his Taser. When James repeatedly refused commands to stop the car and drove toward another officer, that officer fired his service weapon, hitting James in the hand. The assault count regarding the use of a Taser was the last of several to be dealt with; earlier, U.S. District Judge James Robart dismissed James’ excessive-force claim involving the gunshot wound to James’ hand, saying it was reasonable that the officer thought his life was in danger when James’ car moved toward him.

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