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Your guide to the latest news from around the Northwest

Topic: civil rights

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September 10, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Federal lawyers honored for their work on Seattle police reforms

  U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has honored five current and former members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle for their work in bringing about reforms at the Seattle Police Department. The team was key to investigating allegations of police abuse in Seattle and then negotiating a federal court-monitored consent decree implementing broad reforms in…


Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: civil rights, Eric Holder, Jenny Durkan

February 28, 2014 at 3:51 PM

Federal Way to pay $130K to man questioned in 2008 homicide

The City of Federal Way has agreed to pay $130,000 to settle a civil lawsuit filed by a man who claimed police chained him to a bench while they used manufactured evidence to obtain warrants to search his house and car during a 2008 homicide investigation. Randall Fontana was a person of interest in the slaying of 75-year-old…


Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: civil lawsuit, civil rights, Federal Way Police Department

January 17, 2014 at 10:35 AM

Judge OKs new SPD policies for stops, searches and biased policing

A federal judge today approved new policies for Seattle police officers aimed at addressing the Department of Justice (DOJ)’s concerns over biased policing and how and when officers stop and frisk people. The policies, effective Jan. 31, represent another major step in the court-ordered reform effort, setting new standards that will be felt throughout the city. “These…


Comments | More in General news, The Blotter | Topics: civil rights, Department of Justice, police reform

December 20, 2013 at 12:41 PM

Jury: Lakewood officer didn’t violate rights of man attacked by K-9 dog

A federal jury has found that a Lakewood police officer and his K-9 partner did not violate the civil rights of a domestic-abuse suspect whose leg was mangled during his arrest.

The verdict came after an eight-day trial before U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton in Tacoma, who earlier had found there was enough evidence that Officer James Syler had used excessive force when he deployed his dog, Astor, to apprehend Noel Saldana after Saldana’s wife had called the police in June 2010. The judge also said a jury should consider whether the city deserves to be held liable for not properly monitoring and training the dog team, since Astor had been involved in several other serious bite incidents.

Lakewood argued that Syler was responding to a report of a crime and, based on statement’s by Saldana’s wife, believed he had good reason to make the arrest.

In court documents and in an interview earlier this year with The Seattle Times, the 27-year-old Saldana admitted he was intoxicated when he went to his estranged wife’s house and forced his way in, wanting to say good night to his children.  Mrs. Saldana was not injured, but she called the police after he left, and the officers determined they had cause to arrest him for residential burglary. Mrs. Saldana was a plaintiff in the lawsuit as well.

Saldana said he was urinating in some bushes several blocks away when he heard a “loud voice telling me to get down.”

“I did exactly as I was told,” he said, but Astor tore into his leg.


Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: civil rights, dog bite, k-9

December 17, 2013 at 12:44 PM

Judge approves sweeping new use-of-force policy for Seattle police

The Seattle Police Department has reached a milestone — and a major stepping-stone — toward complying with its settlement agreement with the Department of Justice (DOJ) over reforms.

U.S. District Judge James L. Robart has accepted a new use-of-force policy negotiated between the DOJ and the police department aimed at radically changing the way SPD officers use force and how they report it. The DOJ, in a news release, said the 70-plus page use-of-force policy requires all but the most minimal force be reported by police.

“Today, the Seattle Police Department took another step forward in our efforts to provide effective, humane and constitutional policing to our city,” Interim Police Chief Jim Pugel said in a statement.

The new policy replaces a five-page policy that was in place when the DOJ investigated the SPD and found that officers were quick to resort to force and routinely used too much when they did.

According to the DOJ, the new policy for the first time defines “force,” and details when it is appropriate, and when it isn’t, and provides new detailed reporting requirements. For instance, officers for the first time will have to report when they intentionally point a firearm at someone.

The DOJ news release says the “review and investigation of force will be more thorough than ever before” and that the policy emphasizes de-escalation techniques — including alternatives to the use of force — and “gives officers clear guidance on the use of specific tools,” ranging from pepper spray and batons to firearms.

It includes a new requirement that all officers be armed with at least one less-than-lethal tool. The policy comes with four new procedural manuals detailing weapon-by-weapon guidance, new reporting guidelines and the policies for the a new Force Investigation Team, which will roll out on incidents involving the highest-levels of force and officer-involved shootings.


Comments | More in General news, The Blotter | Topics: civil rights, Department of Justice, Seattle Police Department

May 20, 2013 at 3:57 PM

City to appeal ruling in lawsuit over 2009 Seattle police shooting

The City of Seattle has filed notice that it intends to appeal a ruling by a federal judge who said a jury should hear a civil-rights lawsuit filed by a Greenwood man who was unarmed and suicidal when he was shot in the face by a Seattle police officer during a standoff in 2009. Officers Eugene Schubeck and…


Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: civil rights, Seattle Police, shooting

March 10, 2013 at 10:26 AM

Former city councilmember Richard McIver dies at 71

Richard McIver (Photo Courtesy of Seattle City Council / 2006) Longtime Seattle City Councilmember Richard McIver, 71,  died at Swedish Medical Center Saturday night, according to long-time political associates. Mr. McIver, who served on the city council for more than 20 years before stepping down in 2009, had battled a series of health issues, his former chief of staff Paul…


Comments | More in General news, Politics, The Blotter | Topics: city council, civil rights, Richard McIver

July 2, 2012 at 3:33 PM

Family of Woodinville man killed by deputy files lawsuit

The family of a Woodinville man who was shot and killed by a King County sheriff’s deputy during a domestic violence call in 2009 has filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit, alleging the man posed no threat and that Sheriff’s Office’s policies contributed to the shooting. James L. Slater Jr., 59, was shot twice in the…


Comments | More in General news, The Blotter | Topics: civil rights, King County Sheriff's Office, Officer-involved shooting

June 20, 2012 at 3:16 PM

Auditor urges SPD to upgrade in-car video system

The City Auditor is urging Seattle police to upgrade its in-car video systems and expand access to dash-cam video to address some technical problems with the system that was intended to improve officer accountability but has been plagued with controversy, including massive unexplained data losses and inconsistent use by officers. The city Auditor’s Office report —…


Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: civil rights, dash-cam video, Seattle Police

June 13, 2012 at 4:40 PM

Judge to decide whether SPD civil-rights lawsuit will proceed

A federal judge has said he will decide by the end of next week whether he will send to trial a civil-rights lawsuit against two Seattle police officers accused of using racially motivated excessive force against a robbery suspect. U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez has been asked by city attorneys to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Martin Monetti…


Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: civil rights, Seattle Police