Lawsuit dismissed in deputies’ forceful arrest of Everett man

Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney, a sergeant at the time, was among the officers named in the lawsuit.

Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney. (Sue Misao / Herald file)

Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney. (Sue Misao / Herald file)

EVERETT — A U.S. District Court Judge in Seattle has dismissed a lawsuit alleging Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies violated an Everett man’s civil rights during an arrest.

According to the lawsuit and deputies’ reports, the arrest of Paul Barracliffe II in September 2018 was a chaotic and violent scene. The deputies repeatedly shocked him with a Taser, punched him numerous times and used a police dog to attack him, according to court papers. Photos from the scene show blood smeared on the kitchen floor and what looks like bloody fingerprints on a refrigerator.

In a complaint filed in July 2020, Barracliffe’s attorneys alleged unlawful arrest and detention, unreasonable use of force, assault and battery, negligence and failure to train. In an early press release, they argued Barracliffe was “unarmed, did not resist, and has mental health problems.” Barracliffe has bipolar disorder, diagnosed after a traumatic brain injury he suffered when he was assaulted 12 years ago in Seattle.

The claims drew a stark contrast with the deputies’ versions of events.

In their initial reports, the deputies described how Barracliffe, a 6-foot-2 and 215-pound man, resisted arrest “using every ounce of energy” and with “super human like strength.” While he never attacked deputies, reports say they worried an assault could be imminent and that he could get hold of a weapon if he broke free.

Seven deputies were named in the lawsuit, including Sheriff Adam Fortney, who was a sergeant at the time of the arrest. In the complaint, attorneys for the defense played up the fact that one of the involved deputies, Arthur Wallin, was fired for his involvement in shooting and killing a 24-year-old Edmonds man, after a brief and wild chase. The arrest of Barracliffe took place just a month before. After becoming top cop, Fortney reinstated Wallin, disagreeing with the previous sheriff’s findings that the deputy violated department policy.

Barracliffe was initially represented by attorneys Ada Wong and Jordan Wada of AKW Law in Mountlake Terrace. They withdrew as counsel in April.

Since then, Barracliffe “has failed to participate in the litigation in any meaningful manner,” U.S. District Court Judge Robert Lasnik wrote. And when the judge granted the defendants’ motion to compel a psychological evaluation of Barracliffe, he failed to comply with the court order.

On Aug. 18, a year and a month after the lawsuit was filed, Lasnik signed the order of dismissal.

“We’re pleased with the court’s decision to dismiss the matter,” said Jason Cummings, chief civil deputy prosecutor for the county.

Zachariah Bryan: 425-339-3431; Twitter: @zachariahtb.

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