News and Press Releases

KING COUNTY, WASHINGTON, SHERIFF’S DEPUTY ACQUITTED
ON FEDERAL CIVIL RIGHTS CHARGE AND PERJURY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 23, 2008

King County Sheriff’s Office Deputy BRIAN BONNAR, was found “Not Guilty,” today in U.S. District Court in Seattle of a federal civil rights violation and perjury charges. The jury deliberated a little over a day following a seven day jury trial. Deliberations were recessed for about five days because of a significant snow storm in Western Washington. Jurors returned to the courthouse for the first time since last Wednesday this morning at 9:00 AM, and announced they had reached a verdict at 10:28.

Following the verdict, U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Zilly took a moment to address both the jury and the defendant. Judge Zilly noted that the evidence presented was “conflicting,” and that the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt is very high. Judge Zilly went on to say, “What happened here was not what we expect of our law enforcement officers. There was a substantial amount of evidence that he (BONNAR) did not meet the standard of law enforcement in our community.... There was substantial evidence his conduct wasn’t appropriate.”

According to the testimony of other King County Deputies who were at the scene, on October 22, 2005, BONNAR delivered knee strikes to a defendant’s head after she was already handcuffed and lying face down on the ground. Witnesses also testified that they saw BONNAR lift the woman by her hair and slam her head into the hood of a patrol car. BONNAR was charged with perjury for denying his actions in his testimony before the federal grand jury. BONNAR did not testify at the trial. BONNAR was suspended for twenty days by the King County Sheriff following an internal investigation.

United States Attorney Jeffrey C. Sullivan praised the officers who stepped forward to testify in the case. “It can be difficult for colleagues in law enforcement to step forward, cross that “thin blue line,” and report misconduct by fellow officers. These are difficult cases to bring and prove, but we will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute civil rights cases.”

The case was investigated by the Internal Investigation Unit of the King County Sheriff’s Office and special agents of the FBI. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly L. Harris and Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Edward Caspar.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office at (206) 553-4110.

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