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Originally published October 27, 2011 at 8:23 PM | Page modified October 28, 2011 at 10:35 PM

Corrected version

Jury clears officers in dispute over loud party

A federal-court jury has exonerated two Seattle police officers who were being sued for allegedly forcing their way into a Queen Anne home during a loud-party call, roughing up the residents and then having them charged with felony assault on an officer.

Seattle Times staff reporter

quotes What a bulls--t decision. The judge refused to allow prior misconduct by Officer Dunn... Read more
quotes So Dunn's attorney is allowed to argue in closing that Dunn is not a loose cannon, yet... Read more
quotes If my house was ever approached by cops, i would double lock the door and then pull out... Read more

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A federal-court jury has exonerated two Seattle police officers who were being sued for allegedly forcing their way into a Queen Anne home during a loud-party call, roughing up the residents and then having them charged with felony assault on an officer.

The four-woman, four-man panel deliberated roughly 10 hours over two days before rejecting claims by twin brothers David and James Weed that the officers, Terry Dunn and Dale Davenport, violated their civil rights in 2008 by entering their home without a warrant, falsely arresting them and using excessive force. The brothers had also sought damages for battery and malicious prosecution.

Dunn, a 31-year department veteran, had testified that he set foot in the home by accident, instinctively blocking a door being slammed in his face by David Weed by sticking his foot out. Dunn said the door bounced back and that David Weed attacked him, slugging him in the head while someone — he believes one of two women who were in the house — grappled for his service weapon.

Dunn said he feared for his safety and slugged David Weed hard twice, while Davenport used a stun gun on James Weed, who was also in the doorway. All four individuals were arrested and later charged with felony assault on an officer. However, King County prosecutors later dismissed the case, citing "proof problems."

Dunn declined to comment on the verdict, other than to say he was relieved. His attorney, Ted Buck, said the jury understood how even the most routine police call can turn into a life-or-death situation for an officer and obviously understood the officers' need to protect themselves.

David Weed said the verdict was "a disappointment."

"But at least we had our day," he said.

In closing arguments Wednesday, Buck asked the jury why a veteran officer like Dunn, who had handled hundreds of loud-music calls without ever issuing a citation, would turned this one into a donnybrook.

"He's never done it before," Buck said. "They are asking you to believe that two police officers decided to go crazy that night together."

"This event was triggered by the Weeds' aggression at the door and the slamming of the door," Buck said.

The Weeds' attorney, John Muenster, challenged Dunn's testimony that a "cordial" and routine loud-music call turned suddenly violent when David Weed announced he was going to hit him, and then slugged him harder in the head than he ever been hit before.

He questioned Dunn's claim that he "instinctively" stepped into the Weeds' doorway when David Weed tried to slam the door in his face, although he acknowledge the door would not have hit him had he not done so.

Why, Muenster asked the jury, would Dunn step into the house, not away, when he had testified earlier that the music had been turned down and he had no intention of issuing a citation or arresting anyone up to that point?

Muenster pointed out that the other officer, Davenport, had testified he thought the call was over and was already on his way to his patrol car when Dunn suddenly called for help.

The jury was not allowed to hear of Dunn's disciplinary history, including a 2004 incident where the department's Office of Professional Accountability determined he used excessive force when he chased a pedestrian into the lobby of the Smith Tower in downtown Seattle and slammed the man into a wall.

Then-Chief Gil Kerlikowske gave Dunn 10 days off without pay. However, Dunn appealed and the discipline was overturned on a 2-1 vote by the Public Safety Civil Service Commission.

Nonetheless, Kerlikowske wrote a personal letter of apology to the victim and the city settled a civil-rights lawsuit filed against Dunn and the department for $35,000.

Mike Carter: 206-464-3706 or mcarter@seattletimes.com.

Information from Seattle Times archives is included

in this report.

Information in this article, originally published Oct. 27, 2011, was corrected Oct. 28, 2011. A previous version of this story identified plaintiff David Weed as Edward Weed. Edward is his middle name.

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