Federal judge dismisses Seattle police lawsuit challenging new use-of-force policy
A U.S. judge on Monday dismissed a lawsuit by Seattle police officers challenging new rules restricting the department’s use of force, which they claimed could endanger both them and civilians.
More than 120 officers joined the lawsuit, which sought 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 officers’ lawsuit complained the revised rules, 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 Seattle Police Department has been under federal monitoring since 2012 following an investigation into incidents in which officers appeared to engage in excessive force, particularly against minorities.
In dismissing the lawsuit, U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman, in Seattle, wrote in a opinion entered on Monday that the arguments cited by officers were not supported by the U.S. Constitution or existing case law.
“It would be at least surprising if allegations of such a pattern or practice did not lead to the adoption of stricter standards for use of force by officers,” Pechman added.
In dismissing the officers’ constitutional claims, Pechman sided with the defendants who argued that the Second Amendment, which protects the right to keep and bear arms, does not provide individuals a right to use a firearm in any particular way.
Among the defendants is Merrick Bobb, the court-appointed “monitor” overseeing the changes, who the judge said could not be sued because he has been granted quasi-judicial immunity in his oversight role.
A lawyer representing the defendants, Athan Tramountanas, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
“Judge Pechman’s dismissal of the suit today confirms that SPD’s use-of-force policy is both practical and constitutional,” Mayor Ed Murray, named as a defendant in the case, said in a statement. “Today we move forward with police reform and move past internal divisions over policy.”
(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle. Editing by Andre Grenon)