Nearly 90 Seattle police officers will appeal the dismissal of their federal lawsuit seeking to block new, federally mandated use-of-force policies, their attorney announced Friday.
At a news conference, Athan Tramountanas said the 89 officers will ask a federal appeals court to reinstate their claims against the city. As the first step before arguing their case, the officers filed a notice of appeal Friday.
U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman threw out the lawsuit last month at the city’s request, ruling that policies designed to address excessive force in the Seattle Police Department reasonably balance the need for change with the safety of officers.
The U.S. Justice Department found in 2011 that Seattle officers too often resorted to unnecessary force, in what amounted to a pattern or practice. The finding led to a 2012 settlement between the city and Justice Department to adopt reforms.
Most Read Local Stories
- Digiphiles, delight! A rare stretch of palindrome days has begun
- Central Seattle absorbed more than half of the city's housing growth in the last decade
- 1st US case of COVID omicron variant confirmed in California
- Digital COVID vaccine verification tool officially launched in Washington state
- After unseasonably warm and humid days in Seattle, get ready for cooler weather
Pechman rejected the officers’ claims that the policies are unconstitutional and represent an abuse of power.
She found the policies, which call on officers to look for ways to de-escalate confrontations, are not, as the officers alleged, so inflexible and arbitrary that they shock the conscience — even if the policies slow or forestall the use of force with resisting subjects.
“It does not shock the conscience to see certain de-escalation procedures imposed on police officers in an effort by their Department to avoid a pattern or practice of excessive use of force,” Pechman wrote.
The policies, which went into effect Jan. 1, contain concessions that allow officers to react to rapidly unfolding circumstances, make split-second decisions and exercise reasonable discretion, Pechman noted.
The officers, who filed their suit in May, contended the policies are overcomplicated and put them and the public in danger. There were 100 officers who were part of the lawsuit, but 11 of them were not involved in Friday’s filing.
Tramountanas reiterated Friday the officers’ contention that the policies require them to “hesitate, delay, consider motivations and multiple factors before using any force in fast-developing and dangerous situations.”
The officers will now take their case to the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. They chose not to appeal Pechman’s dismissal of the federal monitor overseeing the reform effort from the suit.