A year-old federal case alleging police brutality, lying dormant since January, has now been teed up by the city for dismissal in the belief a man who was Tasered and shot by Seattle police had it coming. A video that sparked headlines two years ago shows him screaming in pain after being shot in the wrist and handcuffed.
Demetrius James of Seattle, 28, says in a federal lawsuit filed last November that he was Tased and shot in July 2009 after police approached him when he tried to drive out of a parking lot on South Jackson Street. An officer who felt James was trying to run him down fired his handgun five times, one bullet striking James in the wrist; he jumped from the car and ran, then was tracked down. James was charged with assault, and after two mistrials and 14 months in jail, pleaded down to a lesser charge. Then he sued SPD for excessive use of force.
Now city attorneys have filed notice they intend to ask for summary judgment and dismissal of James' case in court next week. They argue that officers Gerald House and Jonathan Chin are protected from damages through qualified immunity, having used lawful, reasonable force.
The two officers were attempting to stop James because his car bore mismatched license plates, they said. James accelerated out of the parking lot despite their orders to stop, and House fired his Taser at the driver, but it failed. The car then veered toward Chin, and he fired into the car's windshield. One shot struck James in the wrist; he bailed from the car and was taken down.
James later admitted he had no driver's license, that the plates were faulty, and that he was in violation of his probation from another case in which he'd attempted to run down a police officer. City attorneys say the case warrants dismissal because officers used "objectively reasonable force" to stop a man committing a felony. A ruling is due Nov. 4.