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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.