King County has settled with the family of a man who was severely injured by sheriff's deputies in 2009 for $10 million.
Christopher Sean Harris, from Edmonds, suffered permanent brain damage when he was tackled by deputies in May 2009. Harris' family filed a civil lawsuit against King County, claiming deputies used unnecessary force when they arrested him after a chase, knocking his head into a wall.
John Cobb, the senior prosecutor on the case for the county, confirmed the settlement five days after the civil trial began on January 20. The settlement is believed to be the largest of its type against King County.
Harris' wife said the settlement will help care for her husband, but it can't change the fact that he is still paralyzed and can't speak.
"I feel like, for the King County Sheriff's Department to agree to pay this amount of money, it should say that a investigation should be done into what happened," said Sarah Harris. "I don't know how they would agree to pay that amount and not feel like something was wrong."
Jurors said it was an emotional, tense day for them.
"I really believe that they should have got what they were asking for, especially Sarah Harris, she has to deal with a lot every day, 24 hour care. It's traumatizing," said juror Bailey Puryear.
"Everybody in the county really feels like this is a just resolution in this matter," said Cobb. "It's a tragic accident, but that's what it was, it was an accident."
Harris was a passer-by when Metro transit deputies responded to an assault at a convenience store in Seattle's Belltown neighborhood in the early hours of Mother's Day 2009. A witness wrongly identified Harris as a suspect. Harris ran in fear of his life because they were not identifiable as police, and deputies chased him. Harris then stopped a few blocks away at the Cinerama Theater, and one of the deputies tackled him, knocking him into a concrete wall. The impact caused Harris to hit the back of his head against the wall and he suffered a severe brain injury. Harris is now unable to walk, talk or take care of himself.
Witnesses who testified in the trial said they didn't recognize the deputies as law-enforcement officers because they were wearing all-black uniforms. Many thought the deputies were either security guards or bouncers.
The deputies were not criminally charged. King County says Harris was responsible for his injury because he ran, instead of letting them determine he was not a suspect.
King County Sheriff Sue Rahr released the following statement about the Harris settlement:
"We realize that the incident where Christopher Harris was injured by one of our deputies was a tragedy for Mr. Harris, his wife Sarah, and his entire family. We hope the settlement will at least bring financial peace, while understanding nothing we can do or say can make that night 'go away'. My sincerest condolences and apologies to Chris and his family."
This Video was released, Monday, May 25, 2009 of an innocent man being slammed head first into a wall by a Seattle police officer, in an exchange that has left the victim in a coma.
29-year-old Christopher Harris was left in a critical condition after a sheriffs deputy twice his size forcibly rammed him, sending him flying against the side of a building.
The footage shows Mr Harriss head thrown forward sharply as his body slams against the pavement.
Mr Harris had been pursued by deputies after a witness wrongly identified him as a suspect in an assault, reported AP.
A lawyer for the family of Mr Harris has said the video and witness accounts show that he was a victim of excessive force by Deputy Matthew Paul, aged 26.
We believe the actions of Deputy Paul were, at best, horribly brutal and, at worst, criminal, said attorney Sim Osborn. He added that he has no reason to believe the deputies did not immediately identify themselves.