King County will pay an additional $1.47 million to a man left brain damaged after he was slammed into a wall by a sheriff's deputy in May 2009.
The payment will bring to nearly $11.5 million the total amount collected by Chris Harris and his family. The additional $1.5 million was agreed to after a judge sanctioned the county for withholding key documents about the deputy's history of using excessive force. The judge had ordered a future hearing to assess more damages, but the Harris family and King County reached a settlement.
The KING 5 Investigators discovered the county had failed to turn documents about Paul over to the Harris family and reported on the case in the "Bully with a Badge" series.
King county also agreed to issue a formal apology to Harris, who was left permanently disabled and requiring 24-hour care after he was tackled by King Co. Sheriff's Deputy Matt Paul. Paul had mistakenly identified Harris as a suspect in a stabbing. Surveillance video showed Harris raising his hands to surrender prior to Paul tackling him.
"Although we continue to strongly disagree with the court that any documents were intentionally withheld by anyone in our office, this resolution does allow for the Harris family to move forward and we wish them the best." said King County Sheriff Steve Strachan.
In September, with Harris's wife and uncle looking on, Pierce County Judge Stephanie Arend slammed King County for failing to supply the Harris family hundreds of pages of documents related to the case, including prior complaints about Deputy Paul's use of force lodged by supervisors and citizens.
"Defendant King County's lack of effort and pattern of deliberate indifference with respect to producing responsive information to plaintiff Harris is reprehensible," Judge Arend said in September. The case was moved to Pierce County because it involved the King County Sheriff's Office.
One of the documents the county failed to turn over to the Harris family was a 2007 email in which a supervisor at the police training academy warned that Paul "exhibited behaviors that were a concern and we no longer wished to use him."
"The county was aware of a pattern of abuses or actions by Deputy Paul and they turned a blind eye to it," Harris family attorney Sim Osborn told KING 5 on Tuesday.
With the latest settlement, the Harris family told KING 5 they are relieved they can put lawsuits behind them and focus on caring for Chris. He turns 32 on Wednesday and the family said while they will have to feed him his birthday cake, they hope he can blow out the candles on his own.
A judge must still approve the new settlement. King County also faces a federal lawsuit filed by a jaywalker who was tackled to the ground by Deputy Paul a year after Harris was severely injured.
Below: Read Judge Arend's order regarding the county's failure to turn over documents to Harris's legal team.