The state Supreme Court has upheld a $1.1 million civil judgment awarded after a King County jury found that negligence by the Federal Way Police Department led to a woman’s 2008 murder by her boyfriend.
Baerbel “Babs” Roznowski, 66, was fatally stabbed by Chan “Paul” Kim immediately after police served him with an antiharassment order that would have forced him to move out of her Federal Way home.
Officer Andy Hensing went to the home May 3, 2008, handed Kim the order and drove away before Kim left the house, said Jack Connelly, the attorney for Roznowski’s family. Kim killed Roznowski a short time later.
Kim was sentenced in March 2010 to more than 20 years in prison for second-degree domestic-violence murder.
In a unanimous opinion filed this morning, justices found that Hensing “as part of his duty to act reasonably, owed Roznowski a duty to guard against the criminal conduct of Kim.”
Hensing “knew or should have known that Roznowski and Kim were both present and that his service of the antiharassment order might trigger Kim to act violently,” said the opinion authored by Justice Mary Fairhurst.
In 2010, a King County Superior Court jury awarded Roznowski’s family $1.1 million. The City of Federal Way asked a judge to reconsider, then unsuccessfully appealed to the Court of Appeals.
“It’s a very important decision,” said Tacoma attorney Jack Connolly said about the Supreme Court opinion. “It upholds the original jury finding and states that an anti-harassment order needs to be properly served.”
Connolly, who is representing Roznowski’s family, said the argument “by the city was that anti-harassment orders were sort of a junior order.” Something that didn’t need to be enforced as strictly as a domestic-violence protection orders.
“The woman that was killed had gone to the courthouse and the police department and told them she wanted an order and was told to get the anti-harassment order, not the domestic-violence protection order,” Connolly said. “The anti harassment order is an important order for the protection of usually women who were in a difficult position and needed help.”