Wednesday, June 10, 2009

U of Washington Art Professor Settles Lawsuit Against Snohomish Police

Shirley Scheier, a University of Washington art professor, who was arrested for taking pictures of power lines settled her lawsuit against the city of Snohomish (Washington) police for $8,000.

In 2007, Scheier was handcuffed, frisked, and held in the back of a squad car, because they believed she was a terrorist.

Although she was released a short time later, she sued the Snohomish police for being overly aggressive and generally going overboard in their reaction.

According to a story in the Seattle Times (official motto: at least we're still printed on real paper), the settlement was reached a year after a U.S. District Court bitch-slapped the three cops who frisked and arrested Scheier, saying they "lacked a reasonable justification for their aggressive tactics in completely restraining Scheier's personal liberty."

Larry Bauman, the Snohomish city manager, told the Times they settled the lawsuit was a business decision, and not because they were convinced they were going to be bitch-slapped all over again to the tune of the entire GDP of Moldova.

"The decision to settle was made by our insurance pool," Bauman told the Times. "They determined that going to trial would have cost $30,000 and that an $8,000 settlement was a good business decision."


I'm no legal expert, but I have a feeling it had to do more with the fact that a jury is going to look at three burly police officers and a middle-aged art professor, and come up with a verdict that includes the words "wildly inappropriate," "jack booted," and "millions."

"We believe our officers acted appropriately and with courtesy," said Bauman.


Even the U.S. District Court judge wrote, "'(g)eneralized, unsubstantiated suspicions of terrorist activity' does not give police the right to ignore people's constitutional rights," said the Times article.

Look for police to begin arresting Girl Scouts for "unauthorized residential surveillance" during the upcoming Girl Scout Cookie sales season.

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