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Court rules cops can sue Seattle councilwoman for libel after she accused officers of ‘murder’

A federal court ruled that authorities can take legal action against a Seattle city councilwoman who called the shooting of Che Taylor “an outright murder at the hands of cops” ahead of a vote on whether to remember her.

Taylor was fatally shot by 2 cops in2016 Following the shooting, Kshama Sawant spoke with a crowd beyond the Seattle Police Department, requiring “justice.”

“The harsh murder of Che Taylor, simply an outright murder at the hands of cops, demonstrates how urgently we require to keep constructing our motion for standard human rights for Black individuals and brown individuals,” Sawant stated. “We need justice on the individual actions, and we need to turn the tide on the systematic police brutality and racial profiling.”

Officers Michael Spaulding and Scott Miller were cleared in the shooting by an inquest panel who ruled the officers were in fear for their lives at the time of the shooting.

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said at the time: “In light of the investigative materials, the video evidence, the testimony of witnesses at the inquest and the jurors’ answers to the court’s interrogatories, there is insufficient evidence to overcome this complete defense as defined by the statute.”

In 2017 Spaulding and Miller filed a lawsuit against Councilwoman Sawant for defamation of character. The lawsuit was dismissed by a federal judge for the fourth time in December 2020. However, last week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit permitted the lawsuit to move forward, overturning the 2020 court ruling.

In the ruling, Judge A. Wallace Tashima wrote: “(Sawant’s) own words suggested that her remarks were directed not only at the police generally, but also at the individual officers involved in the shooting.” The judge said that although Sawant did not name the officer specifically, the intent to include the specific officers in her comments was clearly indicated.

ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: SEATTLE PI

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Paul, 37, is from Scotland in the UK, but currently lives and works in Bangkok. Paul has worked in different industries such as telemarketing, retail, hospitality, farming, insurance, and teaching, where he works now. He teaches at an all-girls High School in Bangkok. “It’s a lot of work, but I love my job.” Paul has an active interest in politics. His reason for writing for FBA is to offer people the facts and allow them to make up their own minds. Whilst he believes opinion columns have their place, it is also important that people can have accurate news with no bias.

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