Lawsuit over taped SPD stomping settled for $150,000


by KING 5 News

Posted on June 27, 2012 at 10:12 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 27 at 5:34 PM

A civil rights lawsuit over an incident in which a Seattle Police officer was videotaped stomping on a Latino man and using racial slurs against him has been settled for $150,000.

The incident occurred on April 17, 2010. Video shows Detective Shandy Cobane stomping on the hand of Martin Monetti Jr., 21, as Monetti lays face down on the ground. Cobane is heard yelling, "I'm going to beat the f---ing Mexican piss out of you homey. You feel me?" Officer Mary Woollum appears to also stomp on Monetti's leg.

The lawsuit against the Seattle Police Department, Cobane and Woollum claimed excessive force and unlawful discrimination. Last week, a federal judge ruled the lawsuit would be permitted to go to trial.

After the video was released, Cobane held a press conference in which he apologized for his actions. He said, "At no time did I ever dream that I would bring such negative notoriety to my department."

Monetti's attorneys were pleased with the city's settlement and said their client is ready to move on.

"The last few years of Mr. Monetti's life have been very difficult. It's been heated litigation and he's been the subject of a lot of media attention and it's been very difficult," said Lorena Gonzalez, Monetti's attorney. "He's ready to move on to the next chapter of his life and put this behind him."

City attorney Pete Holmes, who represented the City of Seattle in the case, released the following statement:

"The City has consistently maintained that Officer Shandy Cobane's use of language was unacceptable and unprofessional, having no place in policing. However, my duty to defend the City's treasury and its employees required a vigorous defense when presented with the $750,000 claim for damages asserted by Mr. Monetti. As the negotiations with the Department of Justice continue, we aspire to police conduct that goes well beyond the constitutional minimums at issue in this lawsuit."

The case is one of a handful that caused the U.S. Department of Justice to review practices within Seattle Police. Federal officials found SPD's use of force was routinely excessive and issued a list of reforms. In response, Seattle Police recommended their own department changes, called the 20/20 Plan.

According to documents released last week by the Mayor's Office, DOJ officials were looking for "unconstitutional" patterns in the use of force.

KING 5's Lindsay Chamberlain and Liza Javier compiled this report.