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Seattle Teen Suing Police Over Jaywalking Arrest

Seattle Post Intelligencer via YellowBrix

August 19, 2010

SEATTLE – A Seattle teen who says three Seattle police officers beat him after he jaywalked last summer near his home in the Queen Anne neighborhood has filed a lawsuit against the Police Department and the city of Seattle.

Joseph Wilson was talking on his cellphone while walking in the 600 block of West Smith Street the evening of July 21, 2009, when he was confronted by Officer Daniel Amador, according to the lawsuit filed this week in King County Superior Court.

Wilson, then 17, told the officer he did not have any identification but that he lived nearby. Wilson also told the officer his family is friends with Assistant Police Chief Jim Pugel.

Wilson said Amador told him to call Pugel, but instead he called a friend’s father to report what was going on, the lawsuit said. Wilson said Amador then cursed at him, grabbed him by the arm and tried to yank him into his patrol car.

Amador told Wilson there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest — a false claim, according to the teen’s lawyer — and was taking him into custody.

The friend’s father, Pat McClure, showed up and videotaped what was happening, the lawsuit said.

“He saw Joey being beaten and that was videotaped,” said lawyer Alisa Brodkowitz, who is representing Wilson. The video, according to the lawsuit, shows the youth being beaten by three officers: Amador, Sgt. Eddie Rivera and Lt. A. Williams.

Wilson was struck in the face and stomach by the officers, the lawsuit said. The youth was taken to the department’s West Precinct and later released to his mother.

He was treated for a broken nose and a concussion, the lawsuit said.

Seattle police spokeswoman Reneé Witt said the allegations against the three officers named in the lawsuit, as well as a fourth officer who was at the scene but not named in the court filing, were investigated by the department. The four officers were exonerated by the department’s Office of Professional Accountability (OPA), Witt said.

“It is unfortunate that a contact involving a relatively minor offense escalated and subsequently required police use of force to bring a resistive suspect under control,” Witt said in a statement.

Witt said the officers used force to arrest Wilson because the teen was combative, uncooperative and refused to get out of the street while walking and talking on his phone.

On Nov. 6, Wilson was again confronted in his neighborhood by a Seattle police officer, the lawsuit said. An officer, who was present during the July incident, threw Wilson to the ground twice and arrested him, the suit said. The name of the officer was not released by police or lawyers for Wilson.

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