The two men were stopped at gunpoint by Seattle police at 2:30 a.m. Feb. 19 after leaving a McDonald's in Seattle's Sodo neighborhood, just days after they were featured in a KOMO-TV report about allegations of excessive force against the Police Department.
Attorneys for two men stopped at gunpoint by Seattle police just days after they were featured in a television news story about allegations of excessive force against the department are questioning whether officers were retaliating against them.
The men were stopped at 2:30 a.m. Feb. 19 after leaving a McDonald’s in Seattle’s Sodo neighborhood. Both men, and three others in the car, including a young woman — all of whom are African American — were subjected to a “high-risk” stop by police that involved drawn weapons and handcuffs.
All were later released without being arrested or charged, said attorney Lizanne Padula, one of the attorneys representing the men.
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Police said the car matched the description of a vehicle used in an earlier robbery, according to a portion of a report the department released Monday.
The incident was disturbing, according to Padula and others, because the stop was made five days after KOMO-TV aired a story about an incident in which police arrested the two men in 2010 for an alleged assault.
Police dash-cam video and audio from the incident revealed the officers mocked the men and threatened to manufacture charges against them, although no charges were ever filed.
The men, Josh Lawson and Christopher Franklin, said the officers manhandled them during the arrest and kicked one in the face.
They have filed a claim against the city, and Padula said she expects to file a federal lawsuit if the city doesn’t respond by a deadline at the end of the week.
The officers were not disciplined.
All five occupants of the car stopped in February, as well as Padula and another attorney, Mary Anderson, appeared Monday at a news conference with James Bible, the president of the Seattle chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Bible questioned whether the incident in February was “purposeful retaliation” by the department against two black men who spoke out against officers or just a “horrific coincidence.”
Bible criticized the Police Department, which is negotiating with the U.S. Department of Justice to address a federal investigation that in December concluded Seattle police routinely use unconstitutional force during arrests, and that revealed inconclusive evidence of biased policing.
One of the complaints voiced Monday was that the attorneys had been unable to obtain reports and dash-cam video from the Feb. 19 incident, even though they filed public-disclosure requests within days. “We have not seen anything,” Padula said.
Monday afternoon, in response to a media request, the department released a copy of a “street contact” report written by Officer Wade Jones saying he noticed the car being driven without its lights on while he was searching for another car.
The report says he broadcast a description of the vehicle containing Franklin and Lawson and was told “by an unknown south unit that the vehicle matched the description of a vehicle doing robberies in the area using Tasers and firearms.”
Padula said the occupants had been at a McDonald’s restaurant and had made a wrong turn.
Jones was not the arresting officer in 2010, and it is unclear at this point whether any of the other officers involved in the stop in February was involved in the previous incident, Padula said.
The report says the occupants were detained briefly and released.
Police spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb said he could not comment on the recent traffic stop because of the claim filed against the city.
Mike Carter: 206-464-3706 or email@example.com