EVERETT — A county in Washington state has agreed to pay $104,000 to settle two lawsuits against the Snohomish County sheriff’s office where a man was bit by a police dog and another man was hit by a patrol car.
Snohomish County, which is not admitting liability by settling, is avoiding attorney and expert witness fees and other trial costs that would have likely exceeded settlement amounts, The Daily Herald reported Monday.
Snohomish County Council does not have to approve settlements lower than $100,000.
Marlon Smith filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Seattle in January 2020 claiming battery and a civil rights violation after deputies unjustifiably released a police dog on him in response to a report that a woman was being mugged in the area in June 2017. Smith said he had to receive surgery because of the bite.
Authorities said the arriving deputies could not find or get in touch with the woman again, but believed a man walking away from officers matched a description from the 911 call.
Police reports said Smith ran into the woods away from deputies before they deployed the dog. Smith argued the deputies gave him no commands to stop, and no warnings a police dog would be ordered to bite him if he didn’t surrender.
One of the deputies received a letter of reprimand after an internal investigation by the sheriff’s office determined one of the officers violated department policy.
The lawsuit was settled on Jan. 21 for $20,000.
The second lawsuit was filed in July 2015 alleging a deputy was negligent when he hit a 51-year-old man, who remained unnamed, with his car in October 2014 as he was walking along the shoulder of a highway.
The lawsuit claimed the deputy “failed to keep a proper lookout ahead of him, failed to maintain his automobile in his lane of travel, travelled too fast for conditions, and failed to exercise proper care and caution for others.”
County attorneys argued the man wore dark clothing, was intoxicated, had headphones on and that there was poor visibility because of sleet-like rain. The man was taken to a hospital and had no memory of the crash.
The lawsuit was settled on Feb. 16 for $84,000.
“The settlements speak for themselves,” Snohomish County spokesman Kent Patton said. He declined to comment any further. Court records show the county has declined allegations in both lawsuits.