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8 File Suit Over Seattle Mardi Gras Beatings

June 27, 2003|From Associated Press

SEATTLE — Eight people injured during a 2001 Mardi Gras riot as outmanned police stood by have filed a lawsuit claiming the city breached its duty to protect them.

Injuries to the plaintiffs included skull fractures, brain hemorrhages and broken noses and teeth.

"There are almost no other cases of a government standing by as people are being pummeled and robbed and killed before their very eyes," said Karen Koehler, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, whose lawsuit names the city, former Mayor Paul Schell and Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske as defendants.

Vastly outnumbered, police were ordered to stand along the perimeter of the crowd of about 4,000 during the riots in the city's downtown Pioneer Square neighborhood. Police commanders said they feared any move would only incite the crowd further and endanger the officers.

Schell said Thursday that he had not seen the lawsuit, but added: "I think the police did the best they could. They had a judgment call to make."

Kathyrn Harper, spokeswoman for the Seattle city attorney's office, said Thursday that she had not seen the lawsuit and couldn't comment.

Kerlikowske declined to comment Thursday.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday, the birthday of Kristopher Kime, who was beaten during the riots as he tried to help an unidentified woman who had been assaulted. Kime, 20, later died of his injuries. About 70 people were injured.

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