2 men settle for $35,000 each in suit against police

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Two Seattle men who sued the Seattle Police Department for millions of dollars, alleging they had been roughed up and falsely arrested after trying to help victims at the scene of a 1998 car crash, have settled for $35,000 apiece.

Kenyatto Allah and Gregory Lewis went to trial last fall in U.S. District Court in Seattle asking for a total of at least $5 million, but the case ended in a hung jury, with jurors split evenly.

The settlement was reached late last month after a federal magistrate stepped in to mediate.

Allah and Lewis alleged civil-rights violations and sought punitive damages against the Police Department and Officer Ronald Martin.

They alleged that Martin, a veteran policeman, arrested them and hit and shoved them in 1998 after they tried to help a teenager trapped in a car that had crashed near the Garfield Playfield in the Central Area.

Martin testified the men were lying and told the jury they were the aggressors and had obstructed his efforts to investigate the accident.

Katherine Harper, spokeswoman for Seattle City Attorney Tom Carr, said yesterday that the city agreed to the $70,000 settlement to avoid the risk of another trial, which could have cost the city a lot more, given that half the jury in the last trial sided with Kenyatto and Lewis.

"Juries are unpredictable," Harper said. "And there was the fact that (the plaintiffs' ) good Samaritan status was fairly compelling. This wasn't the garden-variety false-arrest allegation."

Attorneys Ted Buck and Steve Larson, who represented the city and Martin, were both out of town yesterday. David Goodnight, attorney for Kenyatto and Lewis, declined comment.

Ian Ith can be reached at 206-464-2109 or iith@seattletimes.com.