Jaywalking, Washington state

$75K Settlement Reached For Nursing Assistant Tackled By Police For Jaywalking

A $75,000 settlement was reached in connection to a Black nursing assistant who was tackled and arrested by an officer in Snohomish County in Washington State in March 2020 for jaywalking.

The woman, who was 25 at the time of the incident, was identified as Sharon Wilson, according to The Daily Herald. Wilson said Deputy Matt Lease allegedly brought her down to the ground after she attempted to catch a bus to see her grandmother, who was in the hospital.

The outlet noted Lease claimed Wilson jaywalked across Highway 99 at the intersection of 216th Street SW. The officer wrote in his report that he had the green light but had to slow down while driving his car because Wilson was in the crosswalk. The report said the signal to walk across the highway was not on.

The outlet reported that Lease commanded Wilson to wait at the bus bench and told her she could not leave. The Community Transit pulled up to the bench where Lease had stopped his car to speak with Wilson. The officer’s report said the woman pleaded with Lease to let her get on the bus. But he told the nursing assistant, who had just left a shift during the COVID-19 pandemic, that another bus would come and that he needed to identify her. Security camera footage from the bus showed the then 25-year-old attempting to run to the bus. Lease tackled her and held her down with his knee. Wilson reported being in an “agonizing amount of pain” because of hypersensitivity to contact from having sickle cell disease.

She was arrested for resisting arrest and obstructing law enforcement, the outlet noted.

However, the lawsuit filed against the sheriff’s office in federal court in March stated, “Ms. Wilson tried to explain that she had not heard any commands because she was wearing headphones and could not hear over her music.”

The outlet reported a man who had gotten on the bus that Wilson missed gave another account of what happened. He said the nursing assistant had crossed the street “while the light was red” and that Lease was “giving her a hard time.”

The nursing assistant spent one night in jail. Working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wilson said in the lawsuit that she should not have gone to jail because she was “immunocompromised” and could have exposed others to the virus.

The incident, which occurred the same year George Floyd was murdered, resulted in a $75,000 settlement this month on Oct. 23. Wilson called the officer racist, according to the outlet. Lease denied that he had arrested her on account of her skin color. A prosecutor who reviewed the allegations in Whatcom County, Washington, said a few weeks after police had killed George Floyd in Minnesota that it would be challenging to prove the case to a jury, The Daily Herald reported.