The 25-year-old son of King County Councilor Larry Gossett has sued the city and two Seattle Police officers, saying he was roughed up when he was mistaken for a car prowler.
Langston Gossett filed the lawsuit against Officers Felton J. Miles and John P. Knight in King County Superior Court last month, and the defendants had the case transferred to federal court on Friday.
The complaint alleged that Langston Gossett was standing on his parents' porch and talking on his cell phone last June 14 when a police car stopped in front of the home and Knight beckoned him. The officer pulled out his night stick, made Gossett spread his hands on the car, and grabbed his crotch roughly during the pat-down, forcing him to cry out in pain, the complaint said.
Gossett repeatedly asked what he was suspected of, but the officer refused to answer. Miles then showed up, and as Knight searched around the property, Miles bent back Gossett's left hand, causing intense pain, and forced him into the back of a cruiser, the complaint said.
The officers let him go a few minutes later, when the victim arrived and informed them that Gossett wasn't the suspect, but the son of a King County Councilor.
Anne Bremner, the officers' lawyer, said they were investigating a nearby car break-in and that Gossett matched the description of the suspect: a Black man with bushy hair and a cell phone. A witness had said the suspect appeared to change clothes, and the officers detained Gossett while they searched for the extra clothing, she said.
"He engaged in some mild resistance and they bent his hand back for compliance," Bremner said. "These officers were doing their job, investigating a crime, and they acted appropriately at all times. These types of incidents happen every day in our city."
Both officers are Black and veterans of the department, she said. They were cleared by an internal affairs investigation.
Larry Gossett, who wasn't home at the time of the incident, said he supports his son's lawsuit. Police are often too quick to rough up young Black men in low-income neighborhoods, he said.
"He's a grown man. He felt very aggrieved and treated unfairly by the Seattle Police," Gossett said. "I talked to my neighbors about what happened. They all agreed he was abused and not handled very professionally."
The suit seeks unspecified damages.
— The Associated Press