United States District Judge Marsha Pechman dismissed a lawsuit on Monday filed by 126 Seattle police officers who were challenging new police procedures mandated in an earlier settlement.
Pechman dismissed the suit with prejudice, although the officers may consider filing an appeal according to Athan Tramountanas, an attorney for many of the officers in the suit.
Use-of-force reforms for Seattle police officers were put in place after a 2011 Department of Justice investigation concluded that the Seattle Police Department was engaging “in a pattern or practice of using unnecessary or excessive force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Section 14141.”
The settlement between the SPD and the Justice Department included reforms such as increased targeted training for certain weapons carried by officers and mandatory “use-of-force” reports to be filed in certain incidents when an officer pointed a gun at a person.
Seattle officers argued that the new policies, which took effect in January, were too restricting and violated their constitutional rights of self-defense. “The UF [use-of-force] policies and practices unreasonably restrict and burden plaintiffs right to use force reasonably required, to protect themselves and others, from apparent harm and danger in violation of the Second, Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution,” read the officers’ lawsuit. The suit requested a declaratory judgement against the policies as well as compensatory damages, punitive damages, and their attorney’s fees.
Pechman wrote in her ruling that “the officers’ constitutional arguments are not supported by the text of the Constitution or case law interpreting the Constitution.”
“It does not shock the conscience to see certain de-escalation procedures imposed on police officers in an effort by their Department to avoid a pattern or practice of excessive use of force.It would be at least surprising if allegations of such a pattern or practice did not lead to 14 the adoption of stricter standards for use of force by officers,” Pechman wrote.
“My clients are disappointed in today’s ruling, but remain resolute in their belief that the new use of force policy unreasonably restricts their ability to defend themselves and perform their jobs in a manner that best keeps themselves and the public safe,” said Tramountanas.