TACOMA — A $10 million settlement has been reached between King County and the family of Christopher Sean Harris, the Edmonds man who suffered a catastrophic brain injury in May 2009 when he was shoved into a wall by a sheriff's deputy.
The settlement — the largest individual award in the county's history — comes as a civil trial was under way in Tacoma on a personal-injury lawsuit filed against King County by Harris' wife, accusing Deputy Matthew Paul of acting negligently and using excessive force. Paul was scheduled to testify on Tuesday.
In May 2009, Harris was wrongly identified by a witness as a suspect in an assault outside a Belltown convenience store. The witness pointed Harris out to Paul and another deputy, who were working as King County Metro Transit officers. They yelled at Harris from across the street, but he ran, according to the Sheriff's Office. They chased him for several blocks.
As Harris slowed to a stop, Paul slammed him into the concrete wall outside the Cinerama theater.
A surveillance camera outside the theater captured footage of the incident, and Harris can be seen raising his hands before he is hit by Paul.
The video mentioned is linked below:
After the incident, Harris spent six weeks at Harborview Medical Center, where his family was encouraged to remove him from life support because doctors didn't think he'd ever come out of a coma. But he did, and was transferred to an Edmonds nursing home in June 2009. Harris and his wife later moved in with his parents in Olympia.
Sarah Harris, in a May 2010 interview with The Seattle Times, estimated her husband's medical bills — largely paid through state disability benefits — had topped $1 million one year after he was injured.
During a news conference at Osborn's Seattle office on Tuesday, Sarah Harris said the settlement won't "fix anything," but it will allow her and her husband to move out of his parents' home.
"The reason I did this was to finally take care of Sean at home and on my own," she said
Once again we have a case of a completely inappropriate force used (despite the internal investigation that basically concluded "shit happens") by Seattle area law enforcement. The "suspect" was innocent of any crime, merely unfortunate to have been misidentified by a "witness". The police officers did not adequately identify themselves (reports vary, but yelling at someone while chasing him isn't exactly "identifying".)
Seriously, the local police should get their shit together before there's an initiative to fire all the bastards and start over with a fresh batch altogether. Starting with a few layers at the top would be a nice start.