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Date: 10-20-2023

Case Style:

Bennett Haselton v. Scott Lapierre, et al.

Case Number: 2:23-cv-00706

Judge: Barbara J. Rothstein

Court: United States District Court for the Western District of Washington (King County)

Plaintiff's Attorney:

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Defendant's Attorney: Alexandra Nica and Dallas LePierre for Scott Lapierre, et al.

Description: Seattle, Washington civil rights lawyer represented the Plaintiff who sued the Defendants on civil rights violation theories.

The summer of 2020 was one of largescale and impassioned public demonstrations, widespread throughout the United States, calling for police reform and an end to systemic racism. The movement was spurred in particular by the murder of unarmed suspect George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers in May 2020. See Black Lives Matter Seattle-King Cnty. v. City of Seattle, Seattle Police Dep't, 466 F.Supp.3d 1206, 1210, 1211 (W.D. Wash. 2020) (“The city and nation are at a crisis level over the death of George Floyd. One would be missing the point to conclude that the protests that are the subject of this motion are only about George Floyd. His death just happens to be the current tragic flashpoint in the generational claims of racism and police brutality in America.”).

Seattle itself saw months of protests demanding an end to police abuses, beginning in late May, 2020, with the Seattle Police Department estimating demonstrations totaling thousands of participants. See id. (“On May 25, 2020, George Floyd died in the custody of four Minneapolis police officers. Since then, nationwide outrage and protest has ensued. Protests in Seattle began on May 29, 2020, just days after his death and continue to this day.”); Timeline of Seattle's 2020 Protests, The Seattle Times, available at: (“Concentrated in downtown, the protests result in broken windows, car fires, dozens of arrests, a citywide 5 p.m. curfew and the statewide activation of the National Guard. The Seattle Police Department uses tear gas, flash-bang devices and pepper spray to control the crowds. Hundreds of people - many of them carrying firearms - also arrive in Snohomish in response to rumors that Antifa activists were planning to bring chaos to the community.“); LePierre Decl., Ex. 1, SPD “Incident Action Plan” (“IAP”) at 2.[1]These events were largely peaceful, but unfortunately, on several highly publicized occasions, the demonstrations devolved into riots that resulted in extensive damage to property and injuries to people. See id. Several protests triggered responses by law enforcement that became the subject of excessive-force litigation. Id.; see also, e.g., Black Lives Matter Seattle-King Cnty., 466 F.Supp.3d at 1211, 1216 (enjoining City of Seattle “from employing chemical irritants or projectiles of any kind against persons peacefully engaging in protests or demonstrations”); Benton v. City of Seattle, No. 2:20-CV-01174-RAJ, 2020 WL 4584214, at *1 (W.D. Wash. Aug. 10, 2020); Matter of Recall of Durkan, 196 Wn. 2d 652, 654-55 (2020) (“Protests began in Seattle on May 29 and continued regularly thereafter. The protests were largely peaceful, but on multiple occasions, there were conflicts between the crowds and SPD. In response, SPD used “less lethal” methods of crowd control, including tear gas (also known as CS (chlorobenzylidenemalononitrile) gas), pepper spray (also known as OC (oleoresin capsicum) gas), and flash-bang grenades, multiple times beginning in late May. Numerous protesters were seriously injured, and tear gas seeped into the homes of local residents .... SPD officers also suffered injuries.”). For purposes of the instant motions, it is not subject to reasonable dispute that in Seattle, throughout the summer of 2020, several demonstrations that began as peaceful Black Lives Matter and Defund the Police protests escalated to the point of chaos and violence, resulting in significant damage to property and in some cases, injuries to persons.

On Saturday, August 1, 2020, a group of activists held a planned rally at Seattle City Hall Plaza called “Defend Not Defund SPD” to voice support for the Seattle Police Department and opposition to the “Defund the Police” movement. IAP at 2; Haselton Decl., ¶ 2.[2]City Hall Plaza, as the name suggests, is a large open-air plaza immediately adjacent to Seattle City Hall, bounded on three sides by public streets and on the fourth by City Hall. Compl., ¶ 4.1. As Plaintiff notes, “[a]ccording to the City's website, City Hall Plaza is ‘a gathering place that is host to public activities, including summer concerts, health fairs and a variety of other civic events.” Pl.'s MSJ at 2 (citing It is undisputedly a public forum.[3]

Plaintiff Bennet Haselton has alleged that he holds “progressive views,” and “protest[s] police violence and misuse of power, and support[s] police accountability.” Haselton Decl., ¶ 1; Compl., ¶ 1.1. On the day of the Defend rally, Plaintiff went to City Hall to challenge the Defend message as a counter-protestor. Haselton Decl., ¶ 3. He found the area around City Hall Plaza lined with temporary crowd-control fencing, with access points staffed by Seattle Police Department officers, including Individual Defendants Sandro Fleming, Josh Ginter, Shawn Ross, and Connor Hazelwood. Id., ¶ 8. Other “Defund the Police” counter-protestors had gathered outside the fencing, while Defend protestors carried on within the fencing. As video footage taken by the Plaintiff shows, the waist-high barriers kept the groups physically separated, but generally allowed for each to see and hear the other. See Haselton Decl., Ex. 1, “checkpoint video,” also available at:

After arriving, Plaintiff recognized a woman inside the closed protest area, Katie Daviscourt, as “a prominent social media personality and self-styled journalist,” who had in the past publicly expressed views with which Plaintiff disagreed. Haselton Decl., ¶ 5. Wanting to discuss these views with her directly, he attempted to enter the plaza through one of the entrance points, but after making it apparent he did not share the views of the Defend protestors inside the fencing, was turned away by SPD officers. Plaintiff ultimately gained entrance through a different access point, “slip[ping] into the public park in the wake of a small group of pro-police attendees who were allowed to enter.” Haselton Decl., ¶ 17 (“Unlike at the first checkpoint, this time I did not draw any attention to myself, did not challenge or ask questions about SPD's viewpoint discrimination, or otherwise express my viewpoint or opinions.”).

Once inside the rally zone, Plaintiff approached Daviscourt, verbally confronting her about her recent social media post of video footage of a Black Lives Matter protestor getting attacked, a post that Plaintiff claims “celebrated political violence.” Compl., ¶ 4.6; see Haselton Decl., Ex. 2, “arrest video,” also available at: (“You shared the video of the guy in North Seattle walking up to the BLM protest . . . I just want to know if you have any regrets about that. Do you have any regrets about sharing that video?”). Daviscourt told Plaintiff to “go” and walked away, but Plaintiff followed her, continuing to attempt to engage her in discussion about her post. The incident attracted the attention of other protestors within the Defend rally zone, including one who attempted to interfere with the confrontation by thrusting a flag between Plaintiff and Daviscourt, and other Defend protestors who felt compelled to get involved. Id., at 1:04; 1:13 (“She didn't do anything either, so why are you harassing her?”). Daviscourt walked towards several police officers and advised them that Plaintiff was “not one of us,” at which point the officers advised Plaintiff to leave the plaza or risk arrest, telling him “leave or you're going to be arrested. That's your choice. You're harassing.” Id., at 2:08.

When Plaintiff refused the officers' direction to leave, he was placed under arrest and charged with obstruction and trespass. LePierre Decl., Ex. 2. Plaintiff was taken to King County jail, where he spent several hours. The charges were later dropped. Haselton Decl., ¶ 28; LePierre Decl., Ex. 2 at 17-18.
Haselton v. City of Seattle, 2:23-cv-0706-BJR (W.D. Wash. Oct 20, 2023)

Outcome: 10/20/2023 45 ORDER denying Plaintiff's 18 Motion for Partial Summary Judgment and granting Defendants' 28 Motion for Summary Judgment. This matter is dismissed. Signed by Judge Barbara J. Rothstein. (SB) (Entered: 10/20/2023)
10/20/2023 46 JUDGMENT BY COURT. For the reasons set forth in the ORDER (1) DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND (2) GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, Dkt. No. 45 , dated 10/20/2023, the Court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants, dismissing Plaintiffs claims. (SB) (Entered: 10/20/2023)

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