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December 9, 2013 at 3:33 PM

City to pay $235K to settle lawsuits in SPD alley confrontation

The city of Seattle has agreed to pay $235,000 to settle public-records and civil-rights lawsuits brought by a man who alleged the Seattle Police Department illegally withheld documents from him.

The sum, which includes attorney fees and costs, will be paid to Evan Sargent, who sought the documents as part of his assertion that he was assaulted by an off-duty Seattle police officer in 2009.

As part of the settlement, the city made no admission of liability.

A King County judge imposed a $70,000 fine on the Police Department for violations of the state’s Public Records Act, prompting the city to appeal.

The state Court of Appeals found the department had failed to adequately explain all of the reasons for withholding some information from Sargent’s attorneys, but said the violations were unintentional and that fine was “completely disproportionate.” The court ordered the case sent back to the King County court to refigure the fines.

The case was then appealed to the state Supreme Court, where it was pending when the settlement was reached Friday.

Sargent also brought a civil-rights suit in federal court, stemming from his confrontation with the off-duty officer, Detective Donald Waters. Waters pulled a gun and threatened Sargent during a parking dispute.

A federal judge dismissed the suit in July, although he chastised Waters for not walking away from the confrontation with then-19-year-old Sargent, who had blocked a West Seattle alley with his truck while picking up laundry from his mother’s business.

But Zilly also said Sargent “escalated” the situation when he brandished a baseball bat at Waters, who was trying to find parking to meet a friend for dinner nearby.

Sargent appealed Zilly’s ruling, but under the settlement he agreed to drop all his legal claims.

0 Comments | More in General news, Government, The Blotter | Topics: City of Seattle, Public Records Act, Seattle Police Department

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