City settles lawsuit filed by woman who was arrested after stopping to talk to a group of men who had been detained by officers; the men were released, and she went to jail
The city of Seattle has agreed to pay $55,000 to settle a federal civil-rights lawsuit filed by a woman who claims she was roughly arrested after she stopped to question three men being detained by police on a downtown sidewalk in 2011.
Shannon Aldrich Payne, 47, said her shoulder was dislocated and bones in her hand were broken when officers took her into custody after she stopped and asked one of the men being detained if he had been injured.
Dash-camera video from the lawsuit shows a Seattle police officer identified in the lawsuit as Camilo DePina push Aldrich Payne back when she approached three men who had been detained at gunpoint when officers responded to a “man with a gun” call near Third Avenue and Virginia Street just after 1 a.m.
The video showed the men being ordered to the ground at gunpoint by several officers. One officer is seen walking across the back of one of the prone men, who eventually were released.
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Aldrich Payne said in her lawsuit that she and her husband had been at a show in Pike Place Market and were returning to their vehicle when they saw police activity and the men sitting on the sidewalk with their backs against the wall.
“One man looked like he was in pain and possibly injured,” the lawsuit reads. “Concerned for his well-being, Ms. Aldrich Payne stopped to observe.”
The officers can be heard telling Aldrich Payne to back away from the suspects. She argues with the officers, stating she had the right to observe. An officer agrees, but tells her to do so from a distance.
One of the officers pushes her, and when she protests she is taken into custody.
She was booked into the King County Jail for investigation of felony assault charges, which were never filed. She was charged with misdemeanor obstruction and resisting, which were dismissed.
Aldrich Payne spent two days in jail after her arrest.
Aldrich Payne, a health-studio owner with no criminal history, said she was embarrassed by the incident. On the videotape, she acknowledges she had “had a couple of drinks” but insists she was not intoxicated.
She said it was obvious that police were in control of the situation, and were letting other pedestrians move through the scene.
In an interview, she said one of the men appeared to be in distress and she stopped to ask if he was OK. The officers’ reaction was a surprise, she said.
First, he physically moved her back, then ordered her to stand by. One can be heard on the dash-camera video saying, “I’ll deal with you in a minute.”
She was handcuffed and moved to a patrol car.
In an interview, she said her shoulder was dislocated by the officers when she was forced into the police cruiser and bones in her hand broken by handcuffs that were too tight.
“It seemed very intentional to me,” she said. “I was scared. I knew they were angry at me. It was very upsetting.”
On the videotape, as she’s sitting in the back of the police cruiser on her way to the precinct, she comments: “Wow. It was pretty easy to get arrested by the Seattle police.
“All it took was saying I want to have the right to observe an arrest,” she said.
DePina, the officer who arrested her, was also a defendant in a lawsuit in which the city paid $9,630 to a man who suffered a concussion and facial injuries during an arrest a drive-in on Queen Anne in 2007.
DePina was also one of the lead defendants in a lawsuit filed by the family of Brian Torgerson, who in 2010 suffered severe brain damage when he was beaten, restrained and his head wrapped in a “spit hood” by several officers. The city settled the case for $1.75 million, the largest use-of-force settlement in Seattle’s history.