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November 26, 2012 at 11:53 AM

UPDATE: Lawsuit seeks release of video that purportedly shows SPD officer punching man

UPDATE AT 4:34 P.M.: Seattle police issued a statement in which the department says Egan is asking for a video that he already possesses.

Here’s the statement:

The Seattle Police Department via the City Attorney’s Office provided a copy of the in-car camera footage to James Egan as a matter of criminal discovery. Mr. Egan received police records that were necessary to adequately represent his client.

Mr. Egan made a separate request for the same in car video via the SPD Public Disclosure Unit.  This request is currently in process. Once completed, Mr. Egan’s will receive another copy of the same video.

The SPD Public Disclosure Unit handles on average 4,000 requests for records per year. Every requestor receives a response from the department within five business days.

Since 2008, Mr. Egan alone has made 316 requests of the Seattle Police Department. He has 10 requests that are currently pending. His current request, like all others, will be handled in the order in which it was received.

ORIGINAL POST: A man who claims he was repeatedly punched in the face by a Seattle police officer while two others pinned him to the hood of a police cruiser has filed a public-records lawsuit claiming the SPD is dragging its feet on releasing dash-camera video of the incident.

The lawsuit alleges that the man — Leo Etherly — knows the video exists because his attorney obtained it during the discovery process during the short-lived criminal prosecution of Etherly for allegedly assaulting the officer by spitting on him. However, his criminal attorney, James Egan, says he cannot release the video because of court rules requiring most discovery remain confidential.

Egan, who is also a plaintiff in the public-records lawsuit, claims he has asked the department to simply designate the confidential discovery material as a public record and allow him to release the video.

Etherly had been stopped by police after a hit-and-run accident on Oct. 6 in the Central District. He claims that “during the course” of the encounter one of the officers first strangled Etherly while who others held him, and then slugged him twice in the left eye, causing permanent damage, according to Egan.

Etherly denies he spat on the officer, claiming that he coughed-up saliva after he had been choked.

Misdemeanor assault charges against Etherly were dismissed and he has not been charged with the hit and run, Egan said.


Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: assault, lawsuit, Seattle Police Department


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