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The Today File

Your guide to the latest news from around the Northwest

February 17, 2015 at 4:39 PM

Man who claimed rough arrest during Seattle May Day riots drops suit

A freelance photographer has dropped a lawsuit alleging he was roughly arrested by Seattle police and later charged with assaulting an officer during the 2012 May Day protests, according to court records.

Joshua “Alex” Garland claimed a video posted on YouTube shows he never touched the officer, who later alleged Garland grabbed his wrist and twisted during a raucous confrontation between protesters and police near First Avenue and Pike Street.

Kimberly Mills, a spokeswoman for the Seattle City Attorney’s Office, said Garland asked the court to dismiss the case and was not paid a settlement. She said he agreed to dismiss the case in exchange for an agreement that both sides pick up their own costs.

A telephone call to Garland’s attorney, Simeon Osborn, was not immediately returned.

Garland was one of a handful of people charged with crimes stemming from the 2012 May Day protests. Prosecutors dropped assault charges against him after viewing the video, according to his federal-court lawsuit and other court documents.

Garland’s lawsuit was the second federal civil-rights lawsuit filed against the SPD after the protests, which devolved into street violence and vandalism as officers struggled with conflicting orders and a lack of resources during the annual march and protests.

A jury awarded the plaintiff in the other lawsuit, Maria Morales, $1 in damages for a similar claim of a rough arrest. A federal judge has ordered the city to pay nearly $167,000 in attorney’s fees and costs in connection with Morales’ lawsuit.

The city has appealed the verdict and award to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

According to a department review of the incident — and a blistering internal memo written by the incident commander — officers on the street were unclear as to when they could use force, and what kind of force would be tolerated.

Garland claims he was videotaping the arrest of another protester when, without warning, Officer Stephen Smith shoved him back and then “yanked” him out of the crowd, threw him to the ground and, with the help of several other officers, handcuffed him.

The lawsuit alleged that Smith, in a sworn statement, claimed that Garland grabbed his arm and twisted it — the allegation that led to the criminal charges.

Smith was not disciplined, according to the lawsuit.

 

Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: civil-rights lawsuit, May Day riots, Seattle Police Department

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