Seattle police file federal lawsuit over 'use of force' policy

Thu May 29, 2014 12:36am EDT

Police officers disperse a crowd celebrating on the street after the Seattle Seahawks won the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII in Seattle, Washington February 3, 2014.   REUTERS/Jason Redmond

Police officers disperse a crowd celebrating on the street after the Seattle Seahawks won the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII in Seattle, Washington February 3, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Redmond

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(Reuters) - Seattle police officers filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday challenging new policies that restrict use of force, saying the rules endanger lives of both officers and civilians.

More than 120 officers have joined the lawsuit, which seeks a complete dismantling of a new use of force policy hammered out between the Seattle Police Department and the U.S. Department of Justice to stem an alleged pattern of excessive force.

The Seattle Police Department has been under federal monitoring since 2012, following an investigation into a series of incidents in which officers appeared to engage in excessive force, particularly against minorities.

The lawsuit says the policy, which went into effect this year, "unreasonably restrict and burden Plaintiffs' right to use force reasonably required, to protect themselves and others from apparent harm and danger."

The officers are seeking financial compensation and a complete overhaul of the policy, calling it "unconstitutional and beyond repair."

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the city of Seattle and Mayor Ed Murray are among those targeted in the lawsuit.

Murray declined to comment on the lawsuit, but told local media "We are under a federally mandated court order. We will follow that court order."

"The Justice Department and the federal courts say we need to deal with issues of use of force as well as other issues in our police department," he told Seattle's Fox affiliate.

(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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Comments (4)
REnninga wrote:
It looks like Seattle has more than 120 cops who need to be replaced or resistance to following a Federal Court order. The US Justice Dept. had very strong cause for reigning-in the Seattle Police Dept.
Its record of excessive use of force was putting the department in the same category as the Philadelphia Police Dept in the 1970′s & 1980′s, and the New Orleans Police Dept. in the 1990′s & 2000′s.

Friends and relatives in Seattle have told me they are more afraid of the Seattle Police Dept. when they are out on the town at night than they are of the possibility of random street crime.

When the residents of a city are more fearful of their police than they are of criminals, something’s got to change. And it looks like that change should start with these more than 120 resistant cops.

May 29, 2014 4:51am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Mutantone wrote:
first it was the troops then the police wonder what comes next anarchy? I hope so

May 29, 2014 10:28am EDT  --  Report as abuse
njglea wrote:
It’s high time Seattle got their police force under control. The article says, “The officers are seeking financial compensation and a complete overhaul of the policy, calling it “unconstitutional and beyond repair.” Dismiss every one of the fools who are participating in this law suit, without pay. We do not need their kind of “public service”.

May 29, 2014 10:36am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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