Latino Man Sues Seattle Police, City over Detention and Ethnic Comment

Steve Miletich, The Seattle Times, June 22, 2011

A federal lawsuit was filed against the city of Seattle on Wednesday over the highly publicized incident last year in which a Seattle police officer threatened to beat the “Mexican piss” out of a Latino man who was detained during a robbery investigation.

The suit, brought by Martin Monetti Jr., the target of the comment, alleged that Officer Shandy Cobane also kicked him in the head and hand during the incident.

It seeks unspecified general and punitive damages for alleged civil-rights violations, unreasonable use of force, assault and battery, outrageous conduct, emotional harm and intentional discrimination.

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Cobane was suspended last month by Police Chief John Diaz for 30 days for the remark–the most severe punishment allowed short of firing.

In a prepared statement addressing the suit, the Police Department said Cobane and other officers responded to a report of an armed robbery involving a machete.

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“The Seattle Police Department and Officer Cobane have acknowledged that statements made by him to Mr. Monetti during the April 17, 2010, stop were unacceptable,” the statement added.

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Flanked by his mother, father and sister, Monetti said, “I hope it will become a Police Department that the community trusts and respects instead of one that the community fears.”

Monetti, who read from a prepared statement and didn’t take questions, said he was bothered that other officers “stood around and watched and did nothing.”

Cobane, a decorated officer who has served on the department for more than 17 years, also was demoted from gang detective to officer as a result of the incident. He promised to meet with Latino groups to repair relations and agreed to speak to other officers about the importance of racial and ethnic sensitivity.

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According to the lawsuit, Monetti went with two friends to the China Harbor Restaurant on the night of April 16, 2010, to celebrate his 21st birthday.

While in the parking lot, they witnessed an armed robbery but were not participants, according to the suit.

Soon after, Monetti and one of the men began walking to a car when they were approached about 1:30 a.m. April 17 by police officers and ordered to get on the ground.

“Monetti complied with this and all other commands issued by the officers,” the suit says.

While Monetti was prone, Cobane used his foot to kick and stomp on Monetti’s head and hand several times, according to the suit.

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  • RichardPaulZuckerman

    It sounds like a groundless cause of action. First of all, if the description of the robbery suspects bear a resemblance to him, then they probably had grounds for the investigative detention. Secondly, if he had not filed a timely Tort Claims Act Notice of Claim, then the trial court has no jurisdiction over use of “Mexican” under the circumstances, as slander per se amounts to no more than a common law tort, not a constitutional tort, according to, e.g., Paul v. Davis, U.S. Supreme Court.

  • Anders

    This reminds me of an incident here in Australia a while ago at a cricket match. I know most of you chaps reading Am Ren either don’t know what cricket is, or hate it, but I’ll get to the point.

    An Australian player got ‘run-out’ (dismissed) by an opponent from Sri Lanka. Said player was heard to yell on his way to the dressing-room, “F@#!ing Black C**t”! Needless to say, all over Australian television for the next several days were all-sorts of hand-wringing and oh-my-god-ing about this Aussie player’s horrible racist outburst.

    I was watching the news with my Mum and she pointed out the fact that no-one seemed to be offended by the use of the words C**t or F**K. I would think that most normal people would be offended, or certainly be put ‘ill-at-ease’ in a public situation when some bloke yells out F**K or C**T.

  • Anonymous

    Is there video? I recently had a gun shoved in my face by a cop who thought I was part of a breakin at a library of all places.

    That place, which I did patronize, is covered by cameras, active area sensors and dual layer perimeter breach alarms because of all the DHS stuff that is in the basement maintenance areas.

    If there had been a break-in, I would have been rousted when it happened and not at 9 in the morning as I was preparing to go inside.

    Had the man simply checked the video, the supposed ‘broken glass’ (which I was too small to fit through anyway) would have told him if any silhouettes matched my biometric and I would not have had to go nine rounds with the Inquisition over legitimately checked _library books_ and a personal laptop.

    This is the other side of ‘racial tensions’ folks. I’m white. I did _nothing_ to deserve the 9mm rousting I got. But because of deteriorating conditions, law enforcement is going to be twitchy and stupid. Probably by quota.