- Associated Press - Friday, December 11, 2015

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - A man who suffered a catastrophic brain injury after a King County sheriff’s deputy slammed him into a concrete wall following a 2009 foot chase has died.

Christopher Harris died Thursday in Olympia, Sim Osborn, an attorney for his wife, told the Seattle Times (https://goo.gl/wXW7KH ).

In 2011, King County agreed to pay $10 million to settle a lawsuit filed by Harris’ wife, Sarah, after she claimed Deputy Matthew Paul used excessive force and was negligent. It was the largest individual award ever paid by the county, and it came several days into a trial of the family’s lawsuit against the county.

“The family, they’re destroyed,” Osborn told the Times.

An autopsy performed Friday on Harris found that the 36-year-old died of acute and chronic pneumonia of the lungs because of his head injury, and his manner of death was ruled a homicide, Thurston County Coroner Gary Warnock said in a statement. He added the homicide designation doesn’t mean the death was intentional or that a crime occurred.

Harris ran from deputies who mistook him for a suspect in a fight in Seattle. After a couple of blocks, Harris stopped and turned, and the deputy slammed him head-first into a concrete wall of a movie theater. The violent tackle was captured on surveillance video.

At the time, Harris lived in Edmonds, where he worked at a restaurant.

He was walking down an alley in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood May 10, 2009, when a witness identified him to Paul and another deputy as a suspect in a bar fight that had continued at a nearby convenience store.

Harris led the deputies on a foot chase over a couple of blocks with the deputies yelling for him to stop. The two sides disputed exactly when the deputies identified themselves as law enforcement officers. The deputies were dressed in black tactical uniforms, not traditional deputy uniforms.

Attorneys for Harris’ wife argued Christopher Harris likely didn’t realize the deputies were officers.

County prosecutors did not file criminal charges against Paul, and he remains on the force. An internal Sheriff’s Office investigation determined Paul delivered a “hard shove” that fell within legal bounds.

Sheriff John Urquhart said in an email to the Times that he was sorry to learn of Harris’ death.

“My sincere condolences to his family on behalf of the Sheriff’s Office,” he said.


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

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