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Prisoner Education Guide

Arrest of War Protesters in Seattle Leads to Civil Rights Settlement

by Christopher Zoukis

     Three attendees of a 2006 march against the war in Iraq held in Seattle, Washington, agreed to settle a lawsuit in which they claimed their arrests violated their civil rights.

     On October 5, 2006, Brendan Dunn, Jacob Erwin and Ryan Tompkins decided at the last minute to attend a rally and march in Seattle's Cal Anderson Park against the war in Iraq. Dunn, Irwin and Tompkins said they were seated some distance from the demonstration, acting peacefully, having lunch and passing out political literature when Seattle police arrested them using unreasonable force. The officers also confiscated an anarcho-syndicalist flag they had brought with them.

     Erwin and Tompkins were charged with obstructing an officer and resisting arrest. Dunn was charged with Felony Assault 3 on an officer. All the charges were eventually dismissed.

     On June 24, 2008, Dunn, Erwin and Tompkins filed a complaint in federal court against those who they claimed violated their civil rights. These were Seattle Police Officers Matthew Hyra, Steven Bale, John Skommesa, D. L. Roberson, Monique Avery, Tim Greeley, Sergeant Ann Martin, Lieutenant John Hayes and Lieutenant Rolf Towne, along with the city of Seattle. The plaintiffs claimed false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence. The defendants argued that the plaintiffs were at fault by refusing to obey lawful police orders, and that the defendants' conduct was privileged.

     The claims against Towne were dismissed on July 27, 2009, and on August 5 the claims of malicious prosecution were dismissed against Avery, Greeley, Hayes, and the city of Seattle. The remaining parties agreed to an undisclosed settlement, and the case was dismissed by Judge James L. Robart on December 16.

See: Dunn, et al., v. Hyra, et al., United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, Case No. 2:08-cv-00978-JLR (Dec. 16, 2009)

 

Related legal case

Dunn, et al., v. Hyra, et al., United States District Court for the Western District of Washington


 

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