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The Today File

Your guide to the latest news from around the Northwest

June 3, 2013 at 6:34 PM

Federal Way police officers’ use of force in traffic stop to be investigated

Megan Graham, 36, of Kirkland says she was punched in the face by Federal Way Police officers. She says she did nothing to provoke the beating, but the police say otherwise. (Photo courtesy of Geof Richie)

Megan Graham, 36, of Kirkland says she did nothing to provoke a beating from Federal Way police officers. A police report says otherwise. (Photo courtesy of Geof Richie)

A traffic stop that turned into a brawl between two Federal Way police officers and a Kirkland woman who says she has cognitive and hearing disabilities is being investigated.

The incident began when a Federal Way police officer pulled over 36-year-old Megan Graham for talking on a pink cellphone while driving on the evening of May 27, according to police. Both pulled over in the Forest Cove apartment complex at 30910 15th  Place Southwest where police say the officer also discovered Graham did not have a valid insurance card.

When the officer refused to allow her to go home to get her wallet, according to a police report, Graham got out of her car with her dog and started walking away. After she refused an officer’s orders to return to her car he tried to arrest her. Graham, who is 5-foot-8 and weighs 260 pounds, allegedly out-muscled the 155-pound officer’s attempt at arrest and assumed an aggressive fighting stance.

Graham’s husband, Geof Richie, disputes the police account. He said his wife headed to a friend’s apartment about 30 feet from her car to put her dog away, didn’t hear the officer’s orders and was then caught off-guard by the officer tracking her down and twisting her wrist. He said she tried to tell the officer that she had cognitive disabilities.

A police report says the officer pointed a Taser at her while calling for backup. At the same time, Graham  called 911 saying that she was being attacked by police. When the second officer arrived, according to police, Graham  also resisted his efforts to take her by the wrist and arrest her.

She allegedly tried to punch the second officer in the face, and then tried to punch him again as the officer attempted to take her down to the ground. The first officer attempted to assist taking Graham into custody from behind her, but she allegedly clawed the left side of his neck, causing a minor injury. When they eventually got her to the ground, Graham was arrested. She was later booked into King County’s South Correctional Entity (SCORE) on suspicion of third-degree assault. The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office has since charged her for the attack.

Police say officers called medics to check Graham on-scene, and it was determined she had soft-tissue injuries. Pictures of her afterward show Graham with a black eye and other bruises on her face.

Richie says that Graham never attacked the officers and that the second officer instantly put her in a headlock and punched her in the face at least three times. Richie says Graham was also physically abused by SCORE facility staff.

Further comment from Graham herself was not available today because she was getting CT scans to check out possible facial bone fractures. Her husband says she also suffered a sprained neck and concussion.

The Federal Way Police Department said an independent reviewer will continue to investigate the officers’ use of force.

Below is Megan Graham’s 911 call during a confrontation with Federal Way police officers. 

 

 

Comments | Topics: Federal Way, Kirkland, use of force

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