Not long after King County Sheriff's Deputy Paul Schene beat a 15-year-old girl in her cell, we get this. If you're not familiar with the case of Christopher Harris, he was misidentified as a suspect in an assault in Belltown. Two Sheriff's deputies chased him down--whether they identified themselves as law enforcement is disputed (the Sheriff's office says witnesses say they did, Harris' lawyer says they didn't). Here's what happened when Sheriff's Deputy Matthew Paul caught up to Harris, who had stopped running:
Harris hasn't regained consciousness since and remains in critical condition. Sheriff's Department Spokesperson Sgt. John Urquhart said that the shove appeared to be legal and was within normal rules for a foot pursuit. "Sometimes bad things happen to good people," he said at the news conference.
But what if this hadn't been captured on video? Or if Harris hadn't gone into a coma? We hear about police misconduct when it's on video or when a suspect is gravely injured; at that point, everyone wrings their hands over the behavior of the bad apples. Otherwise, we hear nothing, or assume that when force was used the suspects got what they had coming.
As Seattle lawyer Ed Budge, who's worked on excessive force cases for ten years, told SW after the Schene case, "I don't think I've ever had a case where the abuse was captured on video. My personal belief is that the police are probably aware when their actions are being videoed and when they're not, and act accordingly....Let's say that had not been captured on videotape, I could virtually guarantee you that they would have come up with a story on how she had resisted."