City Hall is now claiming that Martin Monetti, the man thought to have been kicked by a police officer who also threatened to "beat the fucking Mexican piss out of you, homey," was in on the robbery that led to his detention and the subsequent firestorm over police department brutality. The City Attorney's office, seeking to dismiss a federal lawsuit by Monetti, also says the officer's cursing was intended to control the situation - a legal argument the former police chief of Seattle calls "silly."
According to Seattle Police Det. Frank Clark, Monetti was one of three men who "committed" two robberies near the China Harbor restaurant. Clark identifies the other two as armed with a handgun and machete.
The latter two were identified by witnesses as the men who took $20 in one robbery and $5 in another from patrons outside the restaurant; both suspects and victims were Hispanic, police say. A witness told Clark that the two, known as "Sniper" and "Showy," were members of M-13, a notorious Hispanic street gang.
Witnesses told Clark that Monetti was at the robbery scene and told one victim to just "give him" (the robber with the gun) the $5.
Still, though the other two were arrested, Monetti and several others who also apparently were at the robbery scene were not held or charged. Monetti has said repeatedly he was not involved in the robberies.
The city is attempting to show that Monetti, by being more involved in the crime, shares blame for the damages he is seeking from the city in his lawsuit. As the city argues in its brief filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court, "The question is not simply whether the force was necessary to accomplish a legitimate police objective; it is whether the force used was reasonable in light of all the relevant circumstances."
Monetti claims he was kicked in the head by one officer and stepped on by another for no lawful reason. He is seeking unspecified damages for alleged civil-rights violations and unreasonable use of force.
In its brief, the city says a frame-by-frame analysis of the video shot that night by a TV photographer shows there was "in fact, no contact to [Montetti's] head in connection with the alleged 'kick.'" Minimal force was used on Monetti, "a non-compliant and furtive armed robbery suspect," the city says, and "was objectively reasonable under the totality of the circumstances."
City Attorney Pete Holmes' office argues that the "Mexican piss" statement by officer Shandy Cobane - "even if deemed derogatory" - was "not so 'outrageous' as to shock the conscience." The language was used in a way to control, not simply offend, Monetti, the city says.
But former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper, in an interview this morning on KIRO-FM, called that argument "silly." Such language "escalates" a situation, rather than controls it, he said.
Monetti's attorney Lorena González says she plans to file a response shortly to the city's motion to dismiss.