Garfield teacher pepper-sprayed by Seattle police to receive $100,000 settlement
Jesse Hagopian, a history teacher at Seattle’s Garfield High School, was walking on a sidewalk and talking to his mother on his cellphone when an officer pepper-sprayed him on Jan. 19, 2015, after he participated in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event.
The city of Seattle has agreed to pay $100,000 to settle a federal lawsuit brought by a Seattle high-school teacher who was pepper-sprayed by a police officer after giving a speech at the city’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day rally and march last year.
Jesse Hagopian, a history teacher at Garfield High School, said in his complaint that he was walking on a sidewalk and talking to his mother on his cellphone when a female officer pepper-sprayed him on Jan. 19, 2015.
The incident was recorded on video, which showed the officer waving a canister and screaming at passers-by to back up before spraying some of them.
The civil-rights complaint, which sought damages to be determined at trial, said Hagopian suffered difficulty breathing, anxiety and stress after being pepper-sprayed, and that he missed some of his 2-year-old son’s birthday party as he treated his injuries.
Earlier, Hagopian had filed a $500,000 claim against the city.
The case was dismissed in U.S. District Court in Seattle on Monday, after the settlement was reached last month with no admission of liability on the city’s part nor additional payment to Hagopian’s attorneys.
The Seattle Police Department’s handling of the incident sparked controversy when Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant and then-Councilmember Nick Licatajoined with Hagopian at a news conference in October to question why the officer who sprayed him had received a verbal reprimand rather than a stiffer penalty.
Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole issued the reprimand after the department’s Office of Professional Accountability (OPA) recommended a one-day suspension.
When the incident occurred, Hagopian was “escorting an unpermitted protest following a permitted march,” according to the OPA. An overhead view of the encounter also was caught on video.
The OPA determined the use of spray was not reasonable, necessary or proportional and it determined Hagopian posed no threat.
Hagopian’s attorney, James Bible, said Tuesday that he and his client are “at Garfield teacher pepper-sprayed by Seattle police to receive $100,000 settlement | The Seattle Times:
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