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Washington DOC Pays $2.2 Million to Settle Inadequate Supervision Claim Resulting in Death

The Washington State Department of Corrections (WDOC) agreed to pay $2.2 million to the family of a man who was brutally beaten by a probationer. The lawsuit claimed WDOC was liable for wrongful death because it failed to properly supervise the probationer.

While taking his morning walk on January 8, 2005, Darrel Johnson, 29, was knocked down and stomped by Andrew J. Brown, 19, during an attempted robbery. Johnson later died of head injuries suffered during the incident.

Brown had been convicted of second-degree robbery and sentenced to six months in jail on August 30, 2004. He was released in September 2004 and began serving 12 months of supervision by WDOC. Brown was deemed a high risk to commit new crimes.

Despite that risk, WDOC did little to supervise Brown. No change in his supervision occurred after he was arrested for disorderly conduct in October 2004. He was also allowed to remain free after admitting to selling and using drugs while on supervision.

“The attack on Mr. Johnson was particularly brutal. There were some problems with the supervision,” said Assistant Attorney General Glen Anderson, who represented the WDOC in the suit brought by Johnson’s wife and five children. “There should have been more contact with the offender than there was. Whether that would have changed the outcome is always the question.”

Brown was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to more than 30 years in prison in November 2005. The WDOC settled the Johnson family’s lawsuit on October 7, 2008. They were represented by Tacoma attorney Jeremy Johnston. Source: The News Tribune.

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