SEATTLE, WA — A lawsuit filed in Seattle on Friday accuses the city and the state of failing to protect protesters from injury and death amid ongoing protests against police brutality and systemic racism. The suit also alleges that the Seattle Police Department broke laws and violated the state constitution, as well as its own policies.
The 100-page suit, brought by Seattle law firms Stritmatter Kessler Koehler Moore and Cedar Law PLLC, represents dozens of protesters, including Daniel Gregory, injured in a shooting at a Capitol Hill protest in June, and Aubreanna Inda, who was hospitalized after being struck by a police projectile near the East Precinct.
The list of plaintiffs includes the family of Summer Taylor, a protester who died after being hit by a driver who sped through a crowd on Interstate 5 during a July 4 demonstration.
“This lawsuit is brought on behalf of peaceful protesters,” said Karen Koehler, one of the attorneys leading the lawsuit effort, during a news conference Friday. “These protesters did not attack the police, they did not commit violence, they did not loot. They are like 99 percent of the protesters who have tried to protest on behalf of Black Lives Matter. Their peaceful protests were met with the very thing they are protesting against.”
Allegations of specific violations include:
- WA Const. Art. I, Sec. 4 – unconstitutional restraints and punishment on free speech and assembly.
- WA Const. ART. I, Sec. 7 – unconstitutional excessive force.
- DOJ Consent Decree of 2012.
- Seattle Municipal Code 14.11. prohibiting biased policing on the basis of race or political ideology.
- Accountability Ordinance No. 125315. Creating Office of Inspector General, a strengthened Office of Police accountability, and a permanent Community Police Commission.
- Washington Law Against Discrimination, RCW 49.60 discrimination, and retaliation
- SPD Manual, Sections 8.200. Use of force (8.200); De-escalation (8.100), OC Spray and Less
- Lethal Munitions (8.300), Crowd Management (14.090).
- RCW 4.96.010, 4.92.090. Duty to use reasonable police practices to protect and safeguard the public from a foreseeable danger, especially when the risk of harm is created and/or increased by the Defendants’ actions.
- False Imprisonment
- Wrongful Death RCW 4.20.046, 4.20.060
The complaint includes accounts of being hit with “crowd control weapons,” like blast balls and pepper spray, and compiles a long list of injuries at the hands of police. In the filing, attorneys argue police deployed disproportionate numbers of officers, used haphazard and improper force, targeted legal observers, journalists, and medical personnel, and infringed upon constitutional rights.
According to the Seattle Times, the Seattle City Attorney’s Office intends to defend the city against the claims, but the state has yet to review the lawsuit.