Spokane County will pay $60,000 to a 79-year-old robbery victim who says he was seriously injured when sheriff’s deputies manhandled him after he called them for help.
Several deputies reported the home-invasion robbery victim, Terrance McDonald, shouted profanities at them and refused numerous orders to cooperate in the July 2006 incident.
McDonald said in a U.S. District Court lawsuit that he had armed himself and gone in search of the armed men who robbed him and his wife. He said he asked the deputies to help him as he drove past them.
Deputy Patrick Bloomer said in a report that he feared the McDonalds were being held hostage in their vehicle when they left their home and ignored his order: “Sheriff’s department. Stop the vehicle.”
Bloomer said four patrol cars pursued the McDonalds’ Ford Explorer with their flashing lights and sirens on.
Deputies said the Explorer pulled up to a parked car at an Arby’s restaurant, and Edna McDonald yelled, “The girl in the car, it’s them.” But Terrance McDonald drove away, profanely refusing an order to get out of his vehicle, Deputy Robert Satake reported.
Satake said the woman Edna McDonald accused was innocent and “quite shaken up.”
Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich described the civil rights lawsuit settlement, approved this week by county commissioners, as “a pure business decision” to reduce financial risk.
The lawsuit says Edna McDonald talked to a dispatcher while her husband drove. She said a dispatcher told them to put their firearms on the back seat, but Terrance McDonald put one of them on the floor instead.
When the couple returned home, a deputy rapped on a car window with his gun and ordered Terrance McDonald to get out with his hands up, according to the lawsuit.
Deputy Mark Brownell allegedly threw McDonald to the ground without warning, slamming his head onto the pavement. But Bloomer said McDonald refused commands to keep his hands in the air and get on the ground.
Instead, Bloomer reported, McDonald “put his hands near his waist” and turned as if to get back into his vehicle. At that point, Bloomer said, Brownell ran up and forced McDonald to the ground.
Despite McDonald’s age, “if he does have a weapon and he reaches in and pulls it, that weapon is a great equalizer,” Knezovich said. Deputies don’t have much time to decide whether someone is pulling a gun or not, he added.
Bloomer said he helped handcuff McDonald, who resisted by clenching his arms under his body.
Afterward, Sgt. Robert Christilaw said, Edna McDonald told deputies her husband had difficulty with his arms because of injuries he suffered in an airplane crash.
The McDonalds, however, claim the deputies ignored repeated pleas that McDonald couldn’t put his arms behind his back because of those injuries.
The handcuffing allegedly caused injuries so severe that McDonald had to use a wheelchair and crutches for “an extended period,” and couldn’t care for himself for six months.
Deputies reported that McDonald suffered scrapes and cuts on his face, shoulders, elbows, hands and knees. They said they called paramedics and allowed McDonald to go to a hospital.