Surely you'll remember Leo Etherly. He's the man that got the crap punched out of him by SPD officer Eric Faust as part of an investigation into an Oct. 6 hit-and-run accident. The punches were captured by SPD dash-cam video for all to see, and the incident subsequently sparked an Office of Professional Accountability review. Seattle attorney James Egan brought the disturbing footage to light back in November during a much-hyped press conference.
For those playing at home, here's the back story: As the City Attorney's Office details in a press release distributed this morning, the City initially charged Etherly with hit-and-run for allegedly smacking into a female cyclist with his van back on Oct. 6. Charges against Etherly indicate he initially stopped to talk to the victim, but left without providing his name or insurance information.
Etherly was subsequently stopped by police officers later the same day in front of a Central District liquor store. During his interaction with police, Etherly allegedly spit on police officer Eric Faust and was punched several times by Faust because of it - not to mention being charged with misdemeanor assault thanks to the flying saliva.
However, Seattle police requested that the misdemeanor charges be dismissed and that the King County Prosecutor's Office consider felony charges. According to the City Attorney's Office, the county declined, at which point the City's Criminal Division began a further investigation and the hit-and-run charges were ultimately refiled.
According to Pete Holmes' office, the assault charge against Etherly stemming from the alleged spitting was not refiled because, "after that deeper look in the case, CAO did not believe a jury would return a guilty verdict against Etherly."
UPDATE: Reached for comment, Etherly's attorney, James Egan, says the refiling of criminal charges against his client does not impact the validity of Etherly's claim for damages related his run-in with Officer Faust.
"The newly filed criminal charges against Leo Etherly have no bearing on the separate, unrelated actions of Officer Faust causing permanent partial blindness to Leo Etherly," writes Egan in an email to Seattle Weekly. "No matter what the outcome of refiled criminal charges, we believe that being hit twice in the face by an officer when restrained by two others is grossly excessive force. Leo Etherly has a valid claim for damages regardless of the outcome of new criminal charges."
A spokesperson for the City Attorney's Office had no comment on Egan's assertion.
Here's how the City Attorney's Office describes the hit-and-run in a press release distributed today:
On Oct. 6, 2012, the 58-year-old female bicyclist was riding north on 29th Avenue approaching East Jefferson Street when Etherly, driving a 1996 Chevrolet van, hit her from behind. Etherly stopped, got out of his van and spoke to the victim, who told him that the police needed to be called. He got back into his van and left the scene, without providing his name or insurance information. The victim's bicycle, helmet and clothing were damaged and she reported pain in her back, ankle and ribs. She did not seek treatment because of the expense, she said, but was examined at the scene by Seattle Fire Department personnel.
And here's the video of Etherly getting decked. Things get punchy around the 4:30-mark.
Finally, here's a look at the criminal complaint, which was included in the City Attorney's press release announcing the refiling of charges against Etherly: