Thursday, January 1, 2009

Seattle settles libel suit with former cop

The city of Seattle has agreed to pay $12,000 to settle a libel suit filed by former police officer John Powers alleging, among other things, that city officials leaked defamatory statements to Seattle Times reporters.
By Maureen O'Hagan
Seattle Times staff repo

The city of Seattle has agreed to pay $12,000 to settle a libel suit filed by former police officer John Powers alleging, among other things, that city officials leaked defamatory statements to Seattle Times reporters.

The settlement puts to rest a $6 million federal lawsuit Powers filed in 2006, claiming that false information cost him his job and his reputation. The city has not admitted to any wrongdoing as part of the settlement.

Powers, an eight-year veteran, was a key figure in a lengthy FBI investigation into alleged on- and off-duty misconduct by several Seattle police officers who patrolled the Belltown neighborhood.

The Seattle Times wrote about the investigation, which stemmed from allegations that Powers and others in 2004 and 2005 accepted favors from businesses and overlooked illegal drug use.

The investigation did not result in criminal charges. However, Powers was fired in 2005 after Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske found several instances of misconduct, including supplying cocaine to a former girlfriend. A civil-service commission later upheld his firing, finding "a wide-ranging pattern of misconduct."

A decision to strip Powers of his license to be a law-enforcement officer is on appeal, according to the city attorney's office.

Under the terms of the settlement, the money will go directly to Powers' attorney, Susan Rae Sampson, as partial payment of her costs and fees.

According to a statement by the city attorney's office, the settlement was a business decision to resolve the case economically. Several city employees were named in the lawsuit, which meant the city was required to hire outside counsel, rather than relying solely on city attorneys.

"The amount represents a fraction of what it would have cost the city to pursue the case through complete dismissal," the statement said.

The Times was not named in the lawsuit; however, three reporters were subpoenaed to reveal their confidential sources. Those subpoenas were ultimately withdrawn.

Maureen O'Hagan: 206-464-2562 or

Barkley 'disappointed' after DUI arrest

(CNN) -- Basketball commentator and former hoops star Charles Barkley was arrested Wednesday in Scottsdale, Arizona, on suspicion of drunken driving, a police spokesman said.

Barkley issued a brief statement, saying, "I am disappointed that I put myself in that situation. The Scottsdale police were fantastic. I will not comment any further as it is a legal matter."

Lt. Eric Shuhandler of the Gilbert Police Department said an officer pulled Barkley over after he ran a stop sign in Scottsdale's Old Town area, a trendy spot known for its nightclubs and bars. Gilbert and Scottsdale are in the Phoenix metro area.

"The officer identified the driver of the 2005 Infiniti as Charles Barkley," according to a written statement from police. "Mr. Barkley was administered the standard field sobriety tests after the odor of intoxicating liquor was detected."

At a news conference later in the day, Shuhandler said Barkley's "performance on the field sobriety test revealed there was probable cause to make an arrest."

Barkley declined to take a breath test to measure his blood-alcohol level, Shuhandler said earlier.

"When he arrived at the station, police administered a blood test, which is customary of our police department to do," he said, adding that Barkley consented to the blood test.

It will take "a few days" for the crime lab to test the blood sample and determine Barkley's blood-alcohol level, Shuhandler said.
The former NBA power forward was cited for driving while impaired and released.
"It was a pretty routine arrest," Shuhandler said.

Barkley's sport-utility vehicle was impounded under mandatory vehicle impound laws, police said.

Shuhandler said Barkley behaved professionally during the booking and was "very respectful and cordial with our officers."

Barkley, 45, is a commentator for TNT's coverage of the NBA.

In October, he told CNN's Campbell Brown that he plans to run for governor of his home state of Alabama in 2014, saying, "I can't screw up Alabama. We are number 48 in everything and Arkansas and Mississippi aren't going anywhere."

Although he is well known for entertaining comments and a cocky attitude, he also compiled an impressive résumé as a professional basketball player.

A Hall of Famer and 11-time All-Star, Barkley is one of four players in history to rack up more than 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists in a career. He also earned the NBA's most valuable player designation in 1993 and brought home gold medals with the U.S. Olympic basketball team in 1992 and 1996.

His commanding performance on the court earned him the nicknames "Sir Charles" and the "Round Mound of Rebound."

Barkley was drafted out of Auburn University in 1984 by the Philadelphia 76ers and played 16 seasons with the Sixers, Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets before he was permanently sidelined in 1999 with a ruptured tendon in his left knee.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Police investigating teen girl's death


Authorities are investigating the death of a 16-year-old girl found inside her apartment in the 200 block of Alaskan Way South, Seattle police reported Tuesday.

There were no signs of struggle or foul play but the King County Medical Examiner's Office has yet to determine how the girl died.

On Monday, the girl's father called police about 11:15 a.m. to the apartment, where the girl lived with her mother. The father had been unable to reach his daughter and went to check on her. He found her unconscious on a bedroom floor, police spokeswoman Renee Witt said.

Medics pronounced her dead at the scene, Witt said.

Homicide detectives were called to investigate, which is required any time there is a death involving someone under the age of 18, Witt said.

Prosecutors appeal Ressam sentence


The U.S. Attorney's Office in Seattle appealed Tuesday the 22-year sentence imposed on convicted terrorist Ahmed Ressam.

An alert customs officer in Port Angeles thwarted Ressam's plot to bomb Los Angeles International Airport during the millennium holiday rush in 1999 when she stopped him as he drove off the Victoria ferry with a trunk full of explosives.

An appeals court sent the case back to U.S. District Judge John Coughenour for resentencing because of his failure at Ressam's original sentencing in 2005 to clearly enumerate how he had calculated Ressam's sentence under federal guidelines. Coughenour rejected a request from prosecutors at a Dec. 3 hearing that Ressam be sentenced to life in prison because he has stopped cooperating with investigators, instead re-imposing a 22-year sentence.

At the time, prosecutors said they intended to appeal.