People of Seattle Shell Out $2 Million Because “We Are The Police”
June 30, 2015 (Mimesis Law) — The city of Seattle, Washington has decided to settle an excessive force lawsuit for $1.975 million to the plaintiff, Nathaniel Caylor, and which cost the city an additional $524,000 in defense costs. This is believed to be the largest settlement Seattle has ever made. So what happened?
In 2009, Caylor’s girlfriend and the mother of his then 20-month old child died suddenly, and like anyone, Caylor was despondent. When Caylor would not answer the phone, the child’s aunt called the police to check on him. When the police showed up, he would not allow them into his home, but they insisted. Note that they did not have a warrant, nor did they have probable cause. They wanted in because they had been called and, well, ‘we are the police.’
Caylor, who only had one gun, an old shotgun that was disassembled in his closet, did not want to talk to them because:
“The reason why I didn’t let them in is I wanted to be alone. I didn’t want a bunch of uneducated jerks out there who had nothing to offer me. They weren’t therapists, they weren’t grief counselors, they couldn’t understand the pain I was feeling. They couldn’t imagine what I was going through.
So he talked to them from the patio, then turned to go back in the house where his 20 month old son was waiting for him. That’s when they shot him. Because, you know, even though he’s unarmed now, he may not be later. And, well, ‘we are the police.’
As a result of being shot, his jaw was completely shattered and finally repaired with screws and metal rods. After being released from the hospital, he’s charged with criminal mistreatment, unlawful imprisonment and felony harassment. Because, you know, the police shot him, so they had to go through the trouble of investigating themselves in order to rule it a justifiable shooting, and, well, ‘we are the police.’
During the ensuing federal lawsuit, it came out that one of the police officers, Eugene Schubeck, stated that if Caylor came outside, he would shoot him before he would let him go back inside, and that Officer Don Leslie, told him not to miss. But U.S. District Judge Richard Jones, in denying the city’s motion for summary judgment, said:
[N]o reasonable officer could have believed the law justified a shooting.
So, of course, the city appealed the case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (which posts videotapes of oral argument, here), where the case was heard on April 9, 2015. Schubeck’s attorney was almost immediately hit with a question of how the child could possibly be in imminent danger when Caylor was outside and the child was inside. One of the judges pointed out that the officers knew that the child was not in distress, and the attorney really didn’t have much of an answer. Sort of a, well, ‘we are the police’ answer.
So after the city paid a half-million dollars in legal fees to fight this, took it to the Ninth Circuit, went through oral arguments, they decide to pay Caylor almost $2 million dollars. Before the decision is issued? Rest assured that the city didn’t settle because they thought that the Ninth Circuit was going to rule in their favor.
So here is a case where the police showed up to handle a mental health crisis which they were not trained to handle. They wait all of twenty minutes until the subject steps outside to talk to them, and then, without warning, shoot the subject in the head because, well, ‘we are the police.’
You know, for the money that Seattle spent, they could have hired a psychologist to go out to the scene with the police, several times over. Instead it will cost every citizen of Seattle about $4 each to pay for the settlement.
Schubeck remains on the police department payroll, as a hostage negotiator no less. Caylor, who has already had 17 surgeries, with still more to endure, will now have funds available to pay his medical expenses.
And the next time there is a potentially depressed or suicidal person in Seattle, someone will call the cops to come and help. They’ll make sure that everything ends well. Because, well, ‘we are the police.’