The city of Tukwila in Washington agreed to settle a lawsuit for $100,000 plus attorney’s fee after officers punched a restrained man in the face and head, shocking him with taser darts and then siccing a police dog on him in what the department calls “pain compliance” – a use of force tactic they say falls “within policy.”
The lawsuit not only alleged officers used excessive force, it also challenged the city’s de facto policy allowing dogs to bite suspects as a “pain compliance” technique.
A police dog bite is “the most severe force authorized short of deadly force,” according to the 9th Circuit of Appeals.
On August 22, 2014, Tukwila police officers Brent Frank and Mike Boehmer were dispatched to the city’s United Parcel Service freight facility in response to a call about a man dancing, yelling and walking around the freight yard.
When the officers arrived, they saw Linson Tara standing with freight yard workers with a hand on his hip.
Dashcam video shows Frank approach and then grab Tara’s left arm in a two-handed hold while walking him to the front of the police cruiser. That’s when Boehmer arrives on the scene and takes control of Tara’s left arm while Frank grabs Tara by the neck and bends him over backward onto the hood of the police car.
Boehmer then grabs his taser while Frank lifts Tara off the hood and slams him to the pavement. Frank then begins punching Tara in the head and face while holding him down with his knee.
As Frank punches Tara, Boehmer shoots taser darts in his abdomen and leg, shocking him several times.
Frank then releases a police dog named “Ace” from the patrol car that begins biting the man’s legs. While sitting on top of Tara, Frank repositions the dog to an exposed section of his legs making it easier for it to bite him.
As the dog continues to bite Tara’s leg, Tukwila police officer Don Ames, who was not named in the lawsuit, arrives and places Tara in cuffs while holding a knee on his head.
Officer Frank then returns the dog back to its cage in the patrol car.While the officers remove taser darts and lift Tara to a kneeling position, Tara appears only semi-conscious in the video, and probably out immediately after the beating.
Tara was then taken to the hospital where he was treated for injuries, including dog bites on his leg and buttocks and then transported to jail where he was charged with three counts of fourth-degree assault that were all later dismissed upon reviewing the video evidence, which doesn’t show an assault.
According to the lawsuit, Frank sicced the dog on Tara “to assist in providing pain compliance” in order to apprehend the dancing man, who the video shows wasn’t violently or forcefully resisting.
Tara’s lawsuit alleges the department’s use of the police dog to bite his legs was “within their own policy” and his attorney, Joseph R. Shaeffer, sought an injunction against the department alleging the “pain compliance” tactic was unconstitutional.
The use of police dogs for “pain compliance” was approved and acknowledge by one or more reviewing supervisors who stated the “use of force appears appropriate” and that it was a policy of the city.
In addition to the $100,000 settlement, the city also agreed to pay an undisclosed amount for Tara’s attorney’s fees.
Nicholas Hogan Indicted by Department of Justice for Excessive Force
In a separate case, a federal grand jury indicted former Tukwila cop Nick Hogan for excessive force after he doused a man strapped to a gurney with pepper spray at the Harborview Medical Center in 2011.
Hogan worked for the Tukwila Police Department from 2009-2012 before he was fired after the city settled for $425,000 in two excessive force claims not related the indictment.
The department’s decision to finally fire Hogan came in 2012 after the department investigated the 2011 incident at the Harborview Medical Center.
He also admitted to using knee-strikes to the back of the handcuffed man’s head while he moved him from the back of the patrol car into the hospital.
Hogan’s fellow cops even complained he was overly-aggressive, especially when it came to dealing with people of color or intoxicated individuals.
In another case settled by the city Hogan remarked, “this one isn’t going to play basketball anymore” after a black man suffered a broken arm while being arrested by Hogan. The city settled that matter for $175,000.
The victim in the Harbourview Medical Center incident was also an intoxicated African American man, according to Tukwila police internal-affairs documents.
Hogan is expected to appear on June 2nd in U.S. District Court for an initial hearing. He has not yet been jailed.
In 2015, a civil rights lawsuit alleging Tukwila police used excessive force to arrest a 60-year-old handcuffed man who they pepper sprayed and slammed on a car at a bus stop in 2011 settled for $300,000.
The Seattle suburb Tukwila covers nine and a half square miles with a population just over 19,000.
Below is the dash cam footage from the freight yard involving Linson Tara and the complaint filed by his attorneys.