skip to main content
Seattle Protests for Civil Rights
caption: A protester has milk and water poured on their face after they ingested tear gas on Saturday, May 30, 2020, near the intersection of 5th and Pine Streets in downtown Seattle. Thousands gathered for a demonstration following the violent police killing of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed by a white police officer who held his knee on Floyd's neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, as he repeatedly said, 'I can't breathe,' in Minneapolis on Memorial Day.
Enlarge Icon
A protester has milk and water poured on their face after they ingested tear gas on Saturday, May 30, 2020, near the intersection of 5th and Pine Streets in downtown Seattle. Thousands gathered for a demonstration following the violent police killing of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed by a white police officer who held his knee on Floyd's neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, as he repeatedly said, 'I can't breathe,' in Minneapolis on Memorial Day.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Protesters and relatives seek damages from Seattle and Washington state, citing excessive police force and negligence

More than a dozen Seattle area protesters and their relatives have filed claims against various government agencies, after sustaining injuries — one fatal — amid ongoing local civil rights demonstrations.

Many of these were aimed at Seattle and Washington state, alleging excessive force by police against peaceful demonstrators, and failures to protect protesters from "reasonably foreseeable dangers."

"These protesters did not incite violence, they did not try to attack the police," said attorney Karen Koehler, who represents several of the claimants, during a press conference on Monday.

They were exercising their constitutional rights, Koehler said, "and just say what they had to say ⁠— and in particular regard to [Black Lives Matter] and George Floyd."

READ: A child pepper sprayed, a woman's eye severely injured. Protesters condemn Seattle Police's tactics

The injuries cited in the claims include:

  • The vehicle-ramming killing of Summer Taylor by a driver who evaded traffic barriers set up by the Washington State Patrol on July 4, and drove into Taylor and another protester;
  • A man shot in the arm by a driver as he attempted to stop the car from barreling into protesters on Capitol Hill on June 7;
  • The use of chemical irritants by Seattle Police against demonstrators, including a then 7-year-old boy who was hit with pepper spray on May 30. Those injuries also include chemical burns and respiratory issues;
  • A partially amputated thumb and shattered forefinger, sustained by a minor who was hit by police with a flashbang grenade on May 30;
  • Injuries resulting from police firing rubber projectiles, including a severe eye injury sustained by a woman during a May 30 protest;
  • A woman knocked unconscious by an officer amid a confrontation on June 8.

In addition to various injuries, the tort claims cite impacts to the affected demonstrators' mental health and capacity to sustain employment.