A federal judge Wednesday ruled for the city of Spokane in a $4.7 million civil lawsuit brought by the family of a suicidal man who jumped off the Monroe Street Bridge following a botched rescue attempt by Spokane police officers.
Attorneys Breean Beggs and Jeffry Finer represented the father of 28-year-old Joshua Levy, who jumped to his death after all-night negotiations.
Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick promised Levy’s family that officers wouldn’t use force.
However, those plans changed and just after 3 p.m. on July 27, 2007, three officers hid behind a large concrete pillar where Levy couldn’t see them. Negotiators persuaded Levy to step down from his perch onto the bridge portico to urinate when an officer fired his Taser. It missed. Levy then hopped back onto the ledge where he’d been perched for hours. When Levy, who had previously been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and had survived earlier jumps, saw several officers running at him, he arose from his perch and jumped feet first off the bridge, landing on the rocks 130 feet below. His father watched nearby.
The legal case centered on a video that showed the location of Levy. Police attorneys, including Assistant City Attorney Rocky Treppiedi, argued that Levy was inside the portico on the bridge. Finer argued the video clearly showed Levy was not. Finer told U.S. District Court Judge Edward Shea on Tuesday that if Levy was in the portico, the family did not have a case.
“They did not have authority to take any aggressive actions unless he was inside the portico,” Finer said.
Shea sided Wednesday with the city’s arguments.
“Mr. Levy’s mental health issues and death are tragic,” Shea wrote. “However, the conduct by law enforcement was reasonable under the circumstances and did not constitute excessive force nor negligent infliction of emotional distress.”
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