The city of Everett will pay $500,000 to settle a civil-rights lawsuit brought by the family of a man who died in 2002 after a struggle...
The city of Everett will pay $500,000 to settle a civil-rights lawsuit brought by the family of a man who died in 2002 after a struggle with police officers.
The suit, brought by the family of Mylo Harvey, alleged that Everett officers were responsible for Harvey’s death and that the city should better train officers on how to deal with irrational and uncooperative individuals.
Harvey was naked and high on psychedelic mushrooms when officers tried to arrest him Nov. 11, 2002. He lost consciousness after a long struggle with the officers and was resuscitated, but physicians determined he was brain dead.
He was removed from life support and died Nov. 15, 2002.
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The Everett City Council approved funds for the settlement at a meeting late last month, about a week after the city and Harvey’s family agreed on the settlement.
The decision to settle is “risk management” by the city, said Bob Christie, a Seattle-based attorney who represented the city in the case. By settling now, the city avoids the possibility of a large jury award or being forced to pay plaintiff’s attorney’s fees.
Because of the number of motions in the case there was “significant attorney-fee exposure,” Christie said.
Everett officials realized the risk that even if the city won part or most of the case, it could still be forced to pay the family’s attorney’s fees.
Christie speculated that most of the $500,000 settlement will go to lawyers.
“It’s not an insignificant sum of money, and it’s one that was clearly driven by the attorney’s fees,” he said.
Cindy Flynn, one of the attorneys for Harvey’s family, said the family will get a “significant amount” of money from the settlement, and they’re happy to have the lawsuit closed.
“I think the family is in some ways happy to have it resolved,” she said. “Closure is always the best way to go if you can get it.”
The family also hopes it sent a message to the city, Flynn said.
“This is not something that should be brushed aside,” she said.
Though it’s not part of the settlement, the family hopes the city will provide officers with specific crisis-intervention training they say might have prevented Harvey’s death.
In a June 2005 complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle, lawyers for Harvey’s family alleged that officers used excessive force in Harvey’s arrest and that Everett failed to train its officers.
An investigation into the death by the Snohomish County medical examiner found that Harvey’s heart stopped because of “excited delirium,” Christie said. The drugs in his system caused him to fight far past when he would have yielded under normal circumstances.
The situation was “unfortunate,” Christie said. “By all accounts, he was a very nice young man.”
Brian Alexander: 425-745-7845 or firstname.lastname@example.org