Seattle Pays $1.975 million Civil Rights Settlement to Unarmed Man Shot by Police

Civil Rights, Police Misconduct

In May 2010, a family member called the Seattle Police Department worried that Nathaniel might be suicidal because of the recent death of his fiancée.  Nathaniel had committed no crime.  When the police arrived, Nathaniel told them that he wanted to be left alone, but gathering SPD officers refused to leave and insisted Nathaniel give them his son.  SPD Officers Schubeck and Leslie, with guns drawn, engaged Nathaniel from a landing above the back fence to his apartment, asking to see that his child was ok. Nathaniel, who was unarmed and made no threats to the child, retrieved his son, to show the officers that he was safe.  When Nathaniel returned to the back patio alone, the officers decided they would not allow him back in the house again if he refused to surrender.  

When Nathaniel stepped toward the open sliding glass door to look after his son, Officer Schubeck shot Nathaniel through the face, without warning, severely wounding him.  SPD officers rushed into the apartment to arrest Nathaniel as he lay bleeding and fell unconscious not far from his son.  Fortunately, Nathaniel survived.  

MHB brought claims on behalf of Nathaniel for violations of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.  During discovery, Officer Schubeck revealed that when he informed Officer Leslie of his plan to use deadly force if Nathaniel tried to re-enter the apartment, Officer Leslie replied: “Don’t miss.”  The crux of the case against the officers was that Schubeck had no reason to believe that Nathaniel would harm his son when he shot Nathaniel, and Leslie was apprised of the plan to shoot, but did nothing to stop Schubeck or have a supervisor intervene.

Judge Richard Jones denied the City’s pre-trial motions to dismiss the case.  Shortly before trial, however, the City and officers asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to hear the case.  With the appeal pending, the City decided to settle the case for $1.985 million.  According to the Office of City Attorney Pete Holmes, the near $2 million settlement was the highest in any excessive force case in Seattle history.

You can read more about the Caylor case in the Seattle Times and Reuters:

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/judge-says-civil-rights-suit-against-officers-can-go-to-trial.  

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-washington-settlement/seattle-settles-2-million-lawsuit-for-excessive-force-by-police-idUSKBN0OY2Q720150618

Attorneys who worked on this case:

David Whedbee, Tim Ford

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