Orcas man sues San Juan County, sheriff and deputy

An Orcas Island man is suing San Juan County over an alleged personal injury.

Daniel Fowler filed a lawsuit in the U. S. District Court for the Western District of Washington on March 4, against San Juan County, sheriff Ron Krebs and deputy Raymond Harvey. Fowler is seeking an amount of money to be determined for economic and noneconomic loss, medical bills, emotional distress, embarrassment, loss of reputation, loss of enjoyment of life and humiliation, as well as attorney fees and other related costs. Fowler alleges that he received bodily injury during an arrest on March 7, 2016. The statute of limitations in Washington for personal injury claims is three years after an alleged incident.

A hearing to schedule the trial length and whether mediation will be done is set for 9 a.m. on June 11 in Seattle in front of U. S. District Judge John. C. Coughenour. Friday Harbor Attorney Nick Power is representing Fowler.

No charges were brought against Fowler at the time of the incident and a no “use of force” report was compiled by the sheriff’s office, the complaint said. Power asserts that the policies of the county’s sheriff department do not comply with “accepted practice or constitutional law.” According to the complaint, Krebs and the county failed to “train, institute policies, supervise, discipline and screen deputies.”

The court documents said Harvey and former deputy David Holland — who is not a defendant in the complaint — visited Fowler’s Eastsound home regarding a no-contact order violation. Fowler claimed the order had been overturned, and said he told the deputies he was going to retrieve documentation.

Fowler attempted to close the door so that he could get the paperwork from his room. He claimed that Harvey stopped the door from closing and forced his way into the residence uninvited and without a warrant. Fowler’s 16-year-old daughter and a friend were inside the home at the time.

According to the complaint, the deputies forced Fowler to the floor and placed him in handcuffs, during which time they slammed his face into the wall and floor, breaking his glasses. He says the arrest caused injury to his shoulder — allegedly confirmed by UW Medicine doctors, although an exact diagnosis was not defined in the lawsuit documents. Fowler was unable to show deputies the documents he claimed to have in his room. He was driven to the Orcas station and allegedly not read his Miranda rights. He was returned home after a short time at the station, documents stated. The no-contact order in question was between Fowler and a victim in a domestic violence charge, for which he was found guilty. The protection order was terminated on Feb. 24, 2016, at the request of the victim, according to the complaint.

Fowler also claimed that a week before the incident, Harvey had contact with him and the victim, during which dispatch told Harvey that the order was still enacted. The termination was not in the system at the time but was later added. According to the complaint, Fowler said he believed Harvey acted with malice and reckless indifference because he was wrong about the order violation the week before. Fowler said since the arrest, he has been unable to perform his job as a mechanic or cut and deliver firewood. He noted that Harvey began his own firewood service to islanders.