A Lakewood police officer who took his own life in late April believed that he was pressured by the Seattle City Attorney’s Office to lie under oath to aid the city in a lawsuit, the Tacoma News Tribune reported today.
The whole story stems from a 2006 incident that left a 16-year-old girl, Channary Hor, paralyzed. Arron Grant, 40 at the time of his death, was a Seattle police officer at the time and was one of the responding officers on the scene. The incident took place in Seward Park in Southeast Seattle, where, after an officer approached a parked car that housed Hor and driver Omar Tammam. Tammam sped off at high speed, passing Grant’s patrol car, before crashing the car and fleeing the scene. Hor’s injuries left her quadriplegic and she sued the city for damages, claiming that the officers violated Seattle Police Department policy for high-speed pursuits.
A jury eventually found that the officers were not responsible for Hor’s injuries, and both Grant and the city were off the hook. However, as the Tribune reports, colleagues at the Lakewood City Police Department say that Grant claimed his testimony was untruthful and that the city attorney’s office had coerced him to make up parts of his story. Specifically, Grant told co-workers that he couldn’t remember when he turned on his cruiser’s emergency lights, but that city attorneys instructed him to state something else.
Colleagues also told the Tribune that Grant was very troubled by his testimony and that he frequently spoke to co-workers about it.
On April 25th, Grant shot himself.
In a statement provided to the Tribune, the city attorney’s office denies that its staff “pressured or encouraged” Grant to give false testimony. Here’s the statement in full:
“The City Attorney’s Office and the attorneys who tried the Hor v. City litigation for the City are very saddened by Officer Grant’s death. Our thoughts are with his family. Responding to the allegations regarding Officer Grant’s testimony in the Hor case, both the City Attorney and the attorneys who tried the case reject the assertion that Officer Grant was pressured to tell a favorable story for the City. His testimony at trial was consistent with the report he wrote on the day of the incident and the testimony of his fellow officer, Adam Thorp, as well as the physical facts of the case and other evidence.
“Officer Grant was forthright and straightforward in his testimony, both in deposition and at trial. Both he and Officer Thorp were subjected to rigorous cross examination by very experienced and highly skilled plaintiff’s counsel. The jury rejected the claim that the officers were negligent in their actions associated with this unfortunate accident that injured Ms. Hor. The case was reviewed on appeal by the Court of Appeals and the verdict in favor of the city was affirmed. The Supreme Court rejected a request for review.
“It is tragic that Officer Arron Grant, who served as a distinguished police officer for both the cities of Seattle and Lakewood, has taken his own life. It is clear that he was grappling with many issues before he died. The attorneys who represented the City did not pressure or encourage Officer Grant to perjure himself at any time.”