Advertising

The Seattle Times Company

NWjobs | NWautos | NWhomes | NWsource | Free Classifieds | seattletimes.com

Local News


Our network sites seattletimes.com | Advanced

Originally published Tuesday, May 12, 2009 at 12:00 AM

Comments (0)     E-mail E-mail article      Print Print      Share Share

Edmonds man critically injured after wrongly identified in Belltown assault

An Edmonds restaurant server found himself at the wrong place at the wrong time early Sunday and now is at Harborview Medical Center in critical condition with head injuries.

Seattle Times staff reporter

An Edmonds restaurant server found himself at the wrong place at the wrong time early Sunday and now is at Harborview Medical Center in critical condition with head injuries.

Around 1 a.m. Sunday, a witness to a reported beating and stabbing in Seattle's Belltown neighborhood fingered Chris Harris as a suspect. When two King County sheriff's deputies ran toward Harris, he took off down an alley, despite the deputies' calls for him to stop.

As it turned out, the witness was mistaken — Harris, 29, of Edmonds, wasn't involved in the reported beating and stabbing. When deputies caught up with him near Fourth Avenue and Lenora Street, one of them tackled him, causing Harris' head to slam into a concrete wall, according to Harris' stepfather, Todd Keeling of Mountlake Terrace.

Harris hasn't regained consciousness and was listed in critical condition Monday night by the nursing supervisor at Harborview. Doctors can't tell Harris' family whether he will survive — much less recover — from multiple skull fractures to the front of his head, Keeling said.

"He ran, and I have no idea why he ran," Keeling said. "But then he stopped, and the officer tackled him and took his head full force into a concrete wall."

Although Keeling said he doesn't think the deputy purposely injured his stepson, he wants him held accountable and the public to know about the tragedy and what he considers excessive use of force.

"I want the truth to come out. ... Yes, OK, he should have stopped, but that's just part of the story," Keeling said.

Harris' family has seen surveillance footage of the arrest, according to sheriff's spokesman Sgt. John Urquhart.

Keeling said a detective with the sheriff's major-crimes unit told Harris' family that Harris seemed "to run out of steam" after running three or four blocks. He had stopped running when he was tackled by one of the deputies, Keeling said.

The King County Sheriff's Office account of what happened is much the same as Keeling's.

According to the Sheriff's Office, two uniformed deputies — in the area because they work for Metro Transit and were patrolling bus routes and shelters in Belltown — received a report of a disturbance at a convenience store at Second Avenue and Bell Street early Sunday.

As the deputies walked toward the store, a woman approached and said a man had been beaten and stabbed. She led them to an alley between Second and Third avenues, Urquhart said. Once there, the woman pointed, saying, "That's one of them right there," according to Urquhart. The deputies yelled at the man to stop, but he ran, Urquhart said.

advertising

During the arrest, the man was seriously injured when his head hit a wall, Urquhart said.

"Now we don't believe he was involved in the fight, although we had a witness that said he was, and of course he took off running when we tried to question him," Urquhart wrote in an e-mail.

By the time police arrived at the convenience store, the parties involved in the fight had left. The stabbing victim has not been located, Urquhart said.

The deputy involved in apprehending Harris "was very upset by the injuries, which by all appearances were accidental," Urquhart wrote. While the deputy is not on paid administrative leave now, his status could change before he returns to work Wednesday after two off days, Urquhart wrote. The other deputy wasn't involved in the arrest and is considered a witness.

One of the deputies is 26 years old and has worked for the Sheriff's Office for four years; the other is 28 with three years on the force and two more with the Phoenix Police Department, Urquhart said. He didn't indicate which deputy had attempted to apprehend Harris. The deputies' names will be released today or Wednesday, Urquhart said.

Harris, who married about a year ago, works as a server at Arnies Restaurant in Edmonds, said Keeling, his stepfather. The young man grew up in Seattle and Olympia and attended the Seattle Art Institute.

"Chris is friendly and gregarious," Keeling said. "He's just a very kind, good, caring kid."

Most folks at Arnies know Harris as Sean, restaurant manager Tara Kelley said.

"The news was really shocking, disturbing," she said late Monday. "He's a very dedicated, strong worker and a conscientious guy. He puts his heart into his work."

Kelley said employees at the restaurant held a silent vigil for Harris on Sunday.

Keeling said Harris worked Saturday night and may have come to Seattle with friends, because his car is still parked outside his home in Edmonds. His wife, Sarah, was with her family in Olympia for Mother's Day, he said.

Harris apparently lost his wallet when he was running, but someone found a slip of paper with the phone number of Arnies Restaurant and, through the restaurant, was able to contact his family.

Keeling said a detective told him Harris wasn't seen on video from a surveillance camera at the convenience store and wasn't involved in the fight. Keeling said detectives also are reviewing footage that may show the incident between Harris and the deputy.

Harris' family has retained Seattle trial lawyer Simeon Osborn, who specializes in personal-injury litigation.

Doctors are monitoring pressure in Harris' brain but don't yet know his prognosis, Keeling said.

"It's horrible. It's a nightmare."

Seattle Times reporter Charles E. Brown contributed to this report.

Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or sgreen@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

More Local News headlines...

E-mail E-mail article      Print Print      Share Share

Comments
No comments have been posted to this article.


Get home delivery today!

More Local News

UPDATE - 09:46 AM
Exxon Mobil wins ruling in Alaska oil spill case

NEW - 7:51 AM
Longview man says he was tortured with hot knife

Longview man says he was tortured with hot knife

Longview mill spills bleach into Columbia River

NEW - 8:00 AM
More extensive TSA searches in Sea-Tac Airport rattle some travelers

Advertising

Video

Marketplace

Advertising