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June 28, 2013 at 4:49 PM

Jurors say SPD, city, not to blame for crash that paralyzed teen

A King County Superior Court jury ruled on Friday that Seattle police did not bear any share of the blame for a 2006 accident that left a Seattle teen a quadriplegic.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Channary Hor, then a 16-year-old high-school sophomore, who was a passenger in a car with Omar Tammam that was parked in the Seward Park lot after closing hours on May 16, 2006.

When officers on routine patrol tapped on the car window with a flashlight to talk to the occupants, Tammam put the car in reverse and sped out of the lot, according to court documents. Police followed him.

Less than a minute later, Tammam crashed into a rock retaining wall and fled on foot, leaving a gravely injured Hor in the car, according to court documents. He later pleaded guilty to a felony hit-and-run in connection with the wreck.

Hor’s attorney Ben Barcus claimed in the lawsuit that the accident would not have occurred had police not pursued the vehicle. He said the “hot chase” was in violation of department policies banning high-speed pursuits unless officers think a serious crime has been committed.

Tamman was wanted on two outstanding warrants, but Barcus said police did not know that at the time.
In its trial brief, the City of Seattle denied that officers engaged in a vehicle pursuit and said that Tammam alone was the cause of the crash.

The jury, which deliberated for three hours after a 16-day trial, agreed that Tammam, and not the city or police department, was at fault. Jurors assessed his responsibility at $17.4 million.

Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: lawsuit, paralyzed, quadriplegic

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