The county has agreed to pay $1.478 million for allegedly withholding documents that depict Deputy Matthew Paul's pattern of behavioral issues prior to the incident involving Christopher Harris.
Sim Osborne, the attorney representing the Harris family, said had the King County Sheriff's Office handed over the documents on Paul as it is legally required to do, he would have taken the case to trial and filed an additional federal civil-rights cause of action. He alleged the department intentionally withheld the documents to hamper the case.
A judge in September ruled in the Harris family's favor, stating, "This reckless indifference in its failure to produce these three documents - documents that were indisputably relevant - is the functional equivalent of intentional misconduct."
The $1.478 million includes the $300,000 in sanctioned by the judge, and is less than half of the $3.3 million the family had sought.
The amount is in addition to the $10 million the county agreed to pay during a civil trial.
Harris suffered permanent brain and spinal damage in the May 2009 incident, and can no longer talk, walk or feed himself. Harris' doctors said he will need 24-hour care for the rest of his life.
Surveillance video from the Cinerama movie theater in downtown Seattle showed Harris racing toward Paul, who appeared to have stopped with his arms outspread. The camera captured Paul giving Harris a shove that knocked Harris eight feet back and through the air into the base of a wall.
Witnesses said the incident began when several men, some covered in blood, ran into a convenience store where Harris had been shopping. Deputies chasing down the thieves were mistakenly told by witnesses that Harris was the man they wanted. Harris had not been in the fight, but he ran.
The surveillance video showed the end of the chase as moviegoers are exiting from the Cinerama theater, about 2½ blocks from where the chase began.
Harris was seen coming into view, making a slight turn and slowing down as Paul gave him a fierce shove, knocking him off his feet. Harris' head slammmed into the base of a tiled wall outside the movie house.
Two witnesses said Harris, who seemed to be stopping, said, "I don't have anything. I didn't steal anything," just before he was hit by Paul, who weighed about 270 pounds, about 100 pounds more than Harris.
One deputy acknowledged on the witness stand that the deputies did not identify themselves to Harris before they started chasing him.
County prosecutors declined to file charges against Paul, saying there was no legal basis for a criminal charge; however, an internal affairs investigation was never opened against the deputy.
A harsh audit released in September concluded the sheriff's office needs serious improvements. The 70-page report said the office must do a better job of investigating shootings, the use of force, and the internal reviews that follow.