By Jim Haley / Herald Writer
SEATTLE – A federal court judge Thursday dismissed a civil rights lawsuit against the city of Everett and a police officer who interviewed a 13-year-old boy for two hours without calling his parents.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Zilly wrote that the detective who interviewed the boy at school was acting in “the course of legitimate police business,” and that can’t be described as “outrageous in character.”
The boy’s parents, Rev. Paul Stoot and his wife Tammie Stoot, filed the lawsuit in November 2005, claiming numerous civil rights violations. The civil lawsuit, originally filed in Snohomish County Superior Court, alleged that the officer unlawfully coerced “false admissions of guilt and a false confession” during an investigation of sexual abuse.
The case later was moved to federal court, said Seattle lawyer Bob Christie, who represented the city and detective Jon Jensen.
“I think it’s a fair and just ruling,” Christie said. “The police have a mandatory duty to investigate here. Some may not agree with the tools of investigation but (the detective) acted completely within the law.”
The bottom line, Christie said, is the city and officer “were vindicated because the judge found he acted reasonably.”
The boy was interviewed in January 2005 after a complaint of sexual abuse. A judge later threw out the confession, concluding that the statement was “the product of impermissible coercion.”
Another judge later dismissed a criminal charge against the boy.
Since then, Rev. Stoot has unsuccessfully pushed the Legislature to change state law that permits police to interview children age 12 or older without notifying their parents.
Stoot lawyer Michael Andrews of Everett said the lawsuit’s main aim was to call attention to the issue and change police practices for interviewing young defendants.
Andrews said he was disappointed that the federal court dismissed the lawsuit. Nonetheless, the ruling doesn’t change what happened.
“In my view, Judge Zilly’s decision doesn’t change the fact that a statement was unlawfully coerced out of a 13-year-old boy,” Andrews said.
Reporter Jim Haley: 425-339-3447 or firstname.lastname@example.org.