SEATTLE – A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit brought by more than 100 Seattle police officers who said new guidelines on using force jeopardized their safety.
The officers’ arguments were unsupported by the Constitution or case law, Chief U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman said in an opinion issued Monday.
The Seattle Police Department adopted a new policy concerning the use of force under a 2012 settlement agreement with the U.S. Justice Department, which found that Seattle police routinely used excessive force, especially in low-level situations that might otherwise have been defused.
“It would be at least surprising if allegations of such a pattern or practice did not lead to the adoption of stricter standards for use of force by officers,” Pechman wrote.
The policy lists guidelines for every weapon used and requires the most serious uses of force to be investigated by a special team. It spells out when force is appropriate, stresses that alternatives to force should be used “when time, circumstances and safety permit,” and requires that officers carry at least one less-lethal tool such as a Taser.
While it says that force used must be reasonable, it also specifies that the analysis of whether the force was reasonable must allow “that police officers are often forced to make split-second decisions in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving.”
No bail for man accused in shooting spree
EVERETT – A man accused of shooting at police stations, patrol cars and officers in three Washington cities has been ordered held without bail after a brief court appearance Monday.
Deputy Prosecutor Ed Stemler told an Everett District Court judge that Hans Hansen, 43, of Lake Stevens, has shown a “propensity for violence” that creates a risk of danger to the community.
Hansen said little but told the court he is trying to hire a private lawyer to represent him.
According to court papers, he wanted to be killed and was disappointed in police marksmanship. He cited his failing health and an impending home foreclosure.
He was wounded in the Oct. 15 gunfire and arrested. He has not been charged.
“Your guys aren’t very good shots,” Hansen told detectives at the hospital where he was treated for a head wound.
Hansen armed himself with six rifles, a shotgun and a handgun and shot up police stations and cars at Granite Falls and Lake Stevens before he was wounded in a shootout from his pickup truck with officers in Marysville, police said.
Hatchery gives away salmon to public
POULSBO, Wash. – People lined up with coolers Monday to wait for free fish as coho and chum salmon returned to spawn at a hatchery on Washington’s Kitsap Peninsula.
Workers at Grovers Creek Hatchery, northwest of Seattle, netted several dozen fish from the pond and harvested eggs from female chum salmon.
Each fish was scanned for electronic tags, measured and counted. The hatchery then gave away the salmon, with a limit of one per person because of the limited runs early in the season. Those who didn’t get a fish Monday were advised to come back later.
The hatchery, run by the Suquamish Tribe, is one of at least a few tribal hatcheries in Washington with a salmon giveaway program.
Others plant salmon carcasses back in rivers, where eagles feast on them. The carcasses break down into nutrients that feed insects, which further feed young salmon.
Mental health insurance review ordered
OLYMPIA – Washington’s insurance commissioner has ordered all companies selling health insurance in the state to review their mental health policies in the wake of a Washington Supreme Court decision earlier this month.
The court ruled that health insurers must cover certain developmental therapies, such as those used to treat autism, if they’re medically necessary.
Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler sent a letter Monday to health insurance companies telling them to review any mental health denials back to 2006.
The justices unanimously rejected arguments from Regence BlueShield, which claimed that the state’s Mental Health Parity Act does not require coverage of neurodevelopmental therapies. Those can include speech, occupational and physical therapies.
The case was brought by the families of two children who need the treatments.
Minnesota man arrested with pot on train
HAVRE, Mont. – A Minneapolis man faces felony drug charges in Montana after a search of the luggage he checked on an Amtrak train turned up more than 31 pounds of marijuana and pot products, officials said.
Amtrak personnel contacted authorities last week to report a passenger smelled of marijuana, the Tri-Agency Safe Trails Task Force said.
Agents with the task force and the U.S. Border Patrol contacted Mohamed Yasin Aboubaker when the train stopped in Havre on Oct. 16. Authorities removed his luggage and he was allowed to continue traveling east, the Havre Daily News reported.
Officers searching his bags found 17 pounds of marijuana, 14 pounds of marijuana-infused edibles – such as brownies – along with about 4 ounces of hash. Aboubaker, 33, was arrested when the train arrived in Malta, about 90 miles east of Havre. Aboubaker is jailed in Havre on $75,000 bond and faces multiple felony charges.
Havre police Lt. Aaron Whitmer said Monday that Aboubaker got on the train in Seattle.
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