- Associated Press - Saturday, December 13, 2014

SEATTLE (AP) - A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a man who says the police retaliated against him and charged with him a crime after he complained against officers.

U.S. District Judge James Robart granted a summary judgment saying that Donald Fuller, 55, failed to prove his constitutional rights were violated or that the officers were guilty of malicious prosecution or intentional infliction of emotional distress, the Seattle Times reported (https://bit.ly/1AuL3WV ).

Two officers stopped Fuller in 2009 for jaywalking. When he refused to show identification, the encounter escalated and police used a Taser and handcuffed him. Fuller spent four days in jail but prosecutors did not file charges.

Fuller filed a complaint with the Police Department’s Office of Professional Accountability claiming the officers used excessive force. The case was assigned to a sergeant who Fuller claims tried to get him charged with a crime.

The officers were exonerated, but a prosecutor consulted with the OPA sergeant, reconsidered the matter and charged Fuller with misdemeanor assault and obstruction, the Times reported. He was acquitted on the assault charge but convicted on the obstruction charge.

He sued claiming the investigator violated a policy that says filing a complaint won’t impact criminal proceedings.

The City Attorney’s Office moved to vacate the conviction, although it maintained that Fuller was guilty of obstruction, the Times said. Prosecutors denied that Fuller was charged because he filed a complaint. It cited the circumstances and said they might have a “chilling effect” on people in the complaint process.

The judge said the sergeant contacted the prosecutor for information about the investigation but said there was “no indication of any retaliatory motive,” nor of urging criminal charges to the prosecutor.

As a result of Fuller’s case, the city adopted a policy that discourages contact between OPA investigators and prosecutors to avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest, Robart’s order said. But the policy was not in place at the time Fuller’s complaint was investigated, the order said.


Information from: The Seattle Times, https://www.seattletimes.com

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