Seattle to pay $45,000 to pregnant woman Tasered by cops

Seattle to pay $45,000 to pregnant woman Tasered by cops
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SEATTLE - The city of Seattle has agreed to pay a $45,000 settlement to a woman who was stunned with a Taser while pregnant after she refused a police officer's order to sign a traffic ticket.

“After almost eight years of litigation, we are pleased to have this matter resolved,” City Attorney Pete Holmes said.

He said the city admits no wrongdoing on the part of the officers who stunned the woman, dragged her from her car and laid her face-down in the street during the November 2004 incident.

Court records show the woman, Malaika Brooks, was driving her son to Seattle's African American Academy in 2004 when she was pulled over for doing 32 mph in a school zone.

She told officers it was the car in front of her that was speeding, and refused to sign the ticket because she thought she'd be admitting guilt.

Rather than give her the ticket and let her go on her way, the officers decided to arrest her. One reached in, turned off her car and dropped the keys on the floor. Brooks stiffened her arms against the steering wheel and told the officers she was pregnant, but refused to get out, even after they threatened to stun her.

The officers - Sgt. Steven Daman, Officer Juan Ornelas and Officer Donald Jones - then stunned her three times, in the thigh, shoulder and neck, and hauled her out of the car, laying her face-down in the street.

Brooks gave birth to a healthy baby two months later, but has permanent scars from the Taser. She sued the officers for violating her constitutional rights, and U.S. District Judge Richard Jones allowed the case to continue. He declined to grant the officers immunity for performing their official duties and said Brooks' rights were clearly violated.

In March 2010, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out Malaika Brooks' case, in a 2-1 ruling, saying the police officers were justified when they used the Taser.

However, Brooks appealed to the full 11-judge 9th Circuit panel to rehear the case, and the request was granted. That court eventually sided with Brooks, but also said the officers were immune to Brooks' constitutional claim because the law was "not sufficiently clear at the time of the incident."

Both the officers and Brooks then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court - Brooks to get the officers' immunity overturned; the officers to have the ruling they violated the constitution overturned.

But the Supreme Court declined to review the appropriateness of stun guns used by police on suspects.

The state Legislature subsequently amended state law to provide that individuals who refuse to sign citations are no longer subject to arrest, and Seattle Police Department policy now restricts the use of Tasers on pregnant women to exceptional circumstances.