The ninth circuit court of appeals ruled Wednesday that Seattle police officers' libel lawsuit against Marxist city council member Kshama Sawant can move forward.
Plaintiffs Scott Miller and Michael Spaulding are two Seattle police officers that were involved in a police-involved shooting that took the life of Che Taylor, a black man, in 2016. The two officers were cleared of any wrongdoing by the King County prosecutor after an extensive investigation from the Seattle Police Department, the City's Force Investigation Team, and the City's Firearms Review Board.
Sawant participated in a protest outside of City Hall a few days after the incident and said that the officers involved need to be held accountable for the "brutal murder" of Taylor.
"The brutal murder of Che Taylor, just a blatant murder at the hands of the police, show[s] how urgently we need to keep building our movement for basic human rights for black people and brown people," Sawant said.
Adding that, they need to be held "...accountable for their reprehensible actions, individual actions. We need justice on the individual actions and we need to turn the tide on the systematic police brutality and racial profiling."
In 2017, Sawant made similar defamatory statements towards Miller and Spaulding following a separate fatal police-involved shooting of a black mother, Charleena Lyles.
During the protest after Lyles' death, Sawant brought up Taylor's death and repeated false allegations that "Che Taylor was murdered by the police."
The lawsuit alleges that although Sawant did not mention the two officers by name during her speech, the city council member called for the community to take action against "individuals." The court ruled that the defamation lawsuit could move forward based on Sawant's usage of the word "individuals."
By state law, for defamation suits to move forward, there must be established evidence that comments made were "of and concerning" the individual.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals analysis ruled that, "[A]lthough Sawant's remarks appear aimed, at least in part, at the police generally, some of her language suggests that her words refer specifically to the officers who shot Taylor. Sawant asserted that Taylor's death was '...a blatant murder at the hands of the police,' and she called for the police to be held '...accountable for their reprehensible actions, their individual actions. We need justice on the individual actions …' This language suggests that Sawant was singling out Plaintiffs—characterizing them as murderers and calling for them to be held individually accountable."
On Wednesday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower courts decision and allowed the lawsuit to proceed. Since 2016, Miller and Spaulding have been trying to sue Kshama Sawant for defamation.
This isn't the only legal battle the Marxist city council member is currently involved in.
In April, the Washington State Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a recall effort against Marxist Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant can proceed. The Court ruled that the recall election can proceed on the following charges:
Council member Sawant illegally led protesters into Seattle City Hall and endangered City workers when it was shut down to the public during the pandemic.
Council member Sawant led a militant march to Mayor Jenny’s house, the location of which the Councilmember knew was protected under confidentiality laws.
Council member Sawant delegated city employment decisions to a political organization outside city government.
Council member Sawant used city resources to promote a ballot initiative and failed to comply with public disclosure requirements.
The recall election will take place in December.