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City of Seattle
Ed Murray, Mayor

SUBJECT: Federal judge dismisses police officers’ challenge to use-of-force policy

10/20/2014  10:30:00 AM
Sean Whitcomb, Public Affairs Director,Seattle Police Department (206) 615-0923
Kimberly Mills  (206) 684-8602
William Lemke  (206) 684-7991

U.S. District Judge Marsha J. Pechman today dismissed a lawsuit brought by a hundred police officers challenging the Seattle Police Department’s new use-of-force policy.

“The officers’ constitutional arguments are not supported by the text of the Constitution or case law interpreting the Constitution,” Pechman said, ruling in favor of multiple defendants, including City Attorney Pete Holmes, court-appointed Monitor Merrick Bobb and Mayor Ed Murray. The judge also dismissed the claim against Bobb, saying the monitor has “absolute immunity” as an agent of the court overseeing the consent decree forged by the City and U.S. Justice Department to reform police practices.

“We are enormously gratified by Judge Pechman’s ruling,” Holmes said from Atlanta, where he is attending the inaugural meeting of Prosecutors Against Gun Violence. “Our office will continue to work with Chief (Kathleen) O’Toole and Mayor Murray to help bring Seattle the safe, effective and efficient police department we all want and need.”

O’Toole said: “The Seattle Police Department is entirely committed to Constitutional policing and is moving full speed ahead with implementation of the Consent Decree. As Chief, I will ensure that our officers have the policies, training, equipment and support to do their jobs safely and effectively.”

Pechman also rejected the officers’ claim that the use-of-force policy violates their Second Amendment rights. “Here, the Policy represents an effort by an employer, the Seattle Police Department, to regulate the use not only of (employer-issued) weapons but of the force its employees are specially sanctioned to wield on behalf of the city government. This scenario has no relation to the Second Amendment guarantees for individuals recognized in Heller, McDonald and Peruta [other rulings],” Pechman wrote.

“Judge Pechman’s dismissal of the suit today confirms that SPD’s use-of-force policy is both practical and constitutional,” the mayor said. “Today we move forward with police reform and move past internal divisions over policy. The City and the officers who filed the suit share the same objectives: safety for the public, and safe working conditions for the officers who provide for the public’s safety. We can achieve both. Chief O’Toole, the City Attorney's Office and my Office will work to make continued improvements to the policy to ensure that our officers feel supported and safe as they carry out their critical duties to ensure the safety of the general public.”

Murray added, “I want to thank the City Attorney’s Office for its successful work in defending the Seattle Police Department’s use-of-force policy against a lawsuit brought by SPD officers.”

Pechman prohibited the officers from amending their claims: "Because the Complaint has already been amended once and further amendment would be futile, the dismissal is with prejudice.”

Judge Pechman's Ruling (Order Granting Motion to Dismiss)

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