Ex-Tukwila officer pleads not guilty to civil-rights charge over pepper-spraying man in hospital restraints

Nick Hogan is the first police officer indicted on a charge of civil-rights violations in eight years in Western Washington. He pleaded not guilty to the charge.

A former Tukwila police officer indicted on a criminal civil-rights violation for pepper-spraying a restrained patient at Harborview Medical Center in 2011 pleaded not guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court.

Nick Hogan, 35, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Brian Tsuchida Thursday, where his attorney, Casey Arbenz, and government attorneys agreed that Hogan would remain free pending an Aug. 8 trial before U.S. District Judge John Coughenour, according to the court docket.

Hogan was fired by the city of Tukwila after the incident; he was hired by Snoqualmie police in 2013.

Hogan was placed on paid leave by Snoqualmie after a grand jury indicted him May 19 on a single count of violating the civil rights of a man he had arrested after a fight. Hogan had taken the man, who is identified in court documents by the initials “M.S.,” to the hospital to have his lip stitched before booking him into jail.

While there, according to Tukwila internal-affairs documents obtained by The Seattle Times, Hogan kneed the handcuffed man three times in the head while pulling him from the back seat of his police cruiser; manhandled him in the emergency-room waiting area when M.S. mouthed off; and then shoved M.S. against a wall and tackled him, according to hospital security reports and Tukwila police documents.

Hogan’s actions prompted complaints by nurses and security officers, and M.S. was placed in four-point restraints on a gurney in a small area enclosed by curtains. Hogan positioned himself on a stool next to the gurney.

He reported that M.S. threatened him and repeatedly lunged at him. He responded by spraying M.S. in the eyes with pepper spray.

Tukwila fired Hogan for using excessive force, but not before the city paid $275,000 in settlements in two lawsuits filed by other men who claimed Hogan had beaten them.

Officials at Tukwila also expressed concerns about biased policing, noting that almost all of the individuals who complained were African-American men who had been intoxicated when they encountered Hogan. Hogan is white.

Hogan was hired by Snoqualmie in 2013, where city officials defended their decision and his work until Hogan was suspended and later disciplined for having an affair with another officer’s wife.

Hogan is the first police officer in Western Washington in eight years to be federally charged for actions committed “under color of law,” according to court documents.

The May 19 indictment by a Seattle grand jury alleges Hogan “willfully deprived” the victim “of the right … to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, which includes the right to be free from the use of unreasonable force by a law enforcement officer.”

 

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/crime/ex-tukwila-officer-accused-of-pepper-spraying-man-in-hospital-pleads-not-guilty/?platform=hootsuite

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