Weed Brothers Seek New Trial in SPD Force Case, Challenging What Jury Heard and Did

When David Weed lost his police brutality case against two Seattle cops in October, he told a Seattle Times reporter "at least we had our day" in court. But now he and his co-plaintiff brother want another another day, arguing that an officer's disciplinary history was wrongly withheld from the jury and claiming there may have been misconduct in the jury room.

A hearing on their appeal for a new trial is slated for today, although it's unclear when a ruling might come.

David and James Weed claim in their federal court lawsuit that SPD officers Terry Dunn and Dale Davenport violated their civil rights when the officers forcibly entered the Weeds' Queen Anne home in 2008 without a warrant in response to a loud-party call.

The situation appeared to go sideways after Dunn stuck his foot in the door when David Weed tried to shut it. The door bounced back and a commotion began: David Weed attacked him, Dunn claimed, hitting him in the head while a woman guest tried to grab his holstered police weapon.

Dunn ended up slugging David Weed while officer Davenport used a stun gun on the brother, James. Both were arrested, though the Weeds said it was the officers who were the aggressors - and in fact, charges were later dropped against the twin brothers.

Nonetheless, a federal jury cleared both officers during the October civil trial. A major turning point, the brother's felt, was a judge's ruling that prevented jurors from hearing about Dunn's earlier use-of-force incidents.

In one, he was found to have used excessive force after chasing a man into the Smith Tower in 2004 and slamming him against a wall. The department paid $35,000 to settle that case.

The Weeds' attorney, John Muenster, now argues it was wrong for the court to prevent the jury from hearing those details. In a brief, he says the defense suggested that Dunn had a clean record, at times calling him a "reasonable" officer who would not "go crazy."

He'd dealt with hundreds of instances like this and there was "never a problem," the jury was told.

"This line of defense placed Dunn in a false light," Muenster argues, and therein made the disciplinary history relevant and admissible. If the jury had heard about it, they would have found in favor of his clients, he says.

Additionally, one of the jurors has come forth to tell the brothers of some possibly wrongful activity in the jury room, which is still being investigated. Muenster refers to it as "extrinsic evidence" being introduced among jurors, and "extraneous influence" being brought to bear. He says there also may be a question about the jurors' voting process.

The officers' attorneys call the bid for a new trial "unfounded and unreasonable," noting in a reply brief that "Nothing provided by plaintiffs evidences how the jury's verdict in this case was not in line with the law or evidence."

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