Deputy who slammed man against wall won't be charged
Criminal charges will not be filed against a sheriff's deputy who slammed a 29-year-old man into a concrete wall during a foot chase in May, according to King County prosecutors.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Criminal charges will not be filed against a King County sheriff's deputy who slammed a 29-year-old Edmonds man into a concrete wall during a foot chase in May, according to prosecutors.
The King County Prosecutor's Office on Friday called the incident that left the man with serious, possibly permanent brain injuries a "tragic incident," but said there was no legal basis for a criminal charge.
The man, Christopher Harris, still has "very" serious injuries as a result of the hit, according to one of the attorneys representing his family.
"He has responded to some simple commands, and the family is hopeful they will be able to move him soon to a place where he can get more aggressive rehabilitative care," said attorney Susan Machler.
Deputy Matthew Paul, 26, and another deputy had been assigned to work Metro Transit on May 10 when they received reports of a bloody brawl that began in a bar, spilled into the street and was possibly re-erupting at a convenience store in Seattle's Belltown neighborhood.
The two deputies responded, and one witness incorrectly identified Harris as a suspect in what the witness believed was a knife fight, according to sheriff's spokesman Sgt. John Urquhart.
Harris fled as deputies attempted to contact him, Urquhart said.
Deputies claimed they identified themselves and shouted for Harris to stop, but some witnesses have told the family's attorneys that deputies did not immediately identify themselves.
The deputies chased Harris for several blocks.
As Harris slowed to a walk, Paul slammed Harris into a concrete wall outside of the Cinerama theater.
A surveillance camera outside the theater captured footage of the incident.
An investigation by the Sheriff's Office found that Paul gave Harris a "hard shove" that apparently fell within legal boundaries.
Prosecutors said they did not have the legal basis to charge Paul with a crime.
"The law provides that an officer 'shall not be held criminally liable for using force without malice and with a good-faith belief that such act is justifiable,' " said Dan Donohoe, spokesman for King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg.
"Christopher Harris was identified by witnesses to officers as a suspect in a violent crime. He ran for several blocks after he was told to stop by uniformed officers. As the deputy caught up to him, the deputy used a standard takedown procedure," Donohoe said. "As a result, no criminal charge can be filed."
Sim Osborn, a Seattle attorney hired by Harris' family, previously said the takedown was "horribly brutal" and a "bone-crushing hit."
Osborn, the lead attorney in the case, could not be reached for comment Friday to answer whether the family was planning to file a lawsuit.
Paul had been placed on paid administrative leave pending the investigation but could be returned to duty at any time, Urquhart has said.
Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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