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Seattle to settle civil-rights suit for $90,001
City agrees to pay $90,001 and attorneys' fees to a victim of a violent SPD arrest.
Seattle Times staff reporter
The city has agreed to pay $90,001 and attorneys' fees to a man who was shocked with a Taser and beaten by four Seattle police officers in a 2010 case of apparent mistaken identity.
The Seattle City Attorney's Office offered the settlement earlier this week after court-ordered mediation in Naita Saechao's federal civil-rights lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleged that Saechao, 50, had attended a friend's birthday party at a home on South Wallace Street on June 26, 2010. About halfway through the celebration, he went to a downstairs bedroom and fell asleep, according to court papers.
In the meantime, another partygoer reportedly cut someone else with a pocket knife at the party.
Saechao's son, David, called police, who were advised they were looking for a man, possibly in his 20s, wearing a red baseball cap and a white T-shirt. When they arrived, officers were told the suspect was in the backyard, according to the complaint.
Officers entered the home and ordered everyone out, according to the documents. Saechao, however, did not hear the order because he was asleep in the basement. Officers searching the house found him asleep, facedown on the bed, wearing a blue T-shirt when they enter the downstairs room
According to the complaint, officers grabbed him, pushed his face into a pillow, and struck him repeatedly on in the head and body. Another officer used a Taser on him "multiple times," according to the documents.
At first, a disoriented Saechao attempted to defend himself, but later realized his attackers were police. He ceased struggling, was handcuffed, and was led out of the home "past many friends and family members."
The complaint alleges that witnesses told officers they had the wrong man and claims that officers threatened to arrest David Saechao for trying to take a photograph of his father's injuries.
The elder Saechao arrived at the SPD's South Precinct "so obviously injured" that someone called an ambulance, and he was transported to Harborview Medical Center for treatment, the complaint says.
Kimberly Mills, spokeswoman for City Attorney Pete Holmes, said the city believes "our officers acted reasonably under the circumstances." The settlement admits no wrongdoing on the part of the officers.
Attorneys' fees are a driving force in police misconduct civil-rights cases, Mills said, and "we wanted to control that number as best as could, and we feel we've done that."
The fees to be awarded Saechao's attorney, Cashton Sessler, will be determined at a later date.
Mike Carter: 206-464-3706 or firstname.lastname@example.org