Kerner claims her assailants pulled out a large amount of her hair, most of it having grown back over the past year.
Kerner claims her assailants pulled out a large amount of her hair, most of it having grown back over the past year.

District 7 Seattle City Council candidate Isabelle Kerner’s lawsuit against the Seattle Police Department is proceeding in U.S. District Court.

Kerner alleges that officers mishandled her assault by a group of men on Capitol Hill on Oct. 8, 2017.

According to the complaint the 23-year-old District 7 candidate filed herself, she had been sitting on a scissor lift outside Neumos with her friends when the men walked by and called her “a stupid f***ing bitch.” One of her friends told officers they yelled back with similar insults.

Then one of the men reportedly grabbed Kerner by the hair and attempted to drag her from the scissor lift, while the others punched her in the back of the head.

Sohaib Zulfiqar was punched in the face by a member of the group as he tried to intervene, according to Kerner’s complaint.

Zulfiqar called 911 to report being punched several times when he tried to help Kerner and her friends.

“They’ve been attacking multiple people and they keep picking fights,” Zulfiqar told a 911 dispatcher.

He followed the alleged assailants down East Pike Street, providing the dispatcher with their location until officers arrived. The men were intoxicated, he said, and they would occasionally turn around and walk toward him threateningly. At one point the dispatcher discouraged him from following them in order to avoid another assault.

“Well, I don’t want them to get away either, because I’ve seen them attack multiple girls,” Zulqifar said. “I intervened, they attacked me.”

At Harvard Avenue and East Pike Street, Zulqifar flagged down Seattle Police Officer Donovan Lewis, according to the complaint. Zulfiqar was bleeding from the mouth, according to Lewis’ report.

“Mr. Sohaib led the Defendants (officers) to the corner where the group of men was standing,” Kerner’s complaint states. “One of the men was urinating on the sidewalk with a bottle of tequila in his back pocket. This is captured and acknowledged on police audio and video recording.”

Kerner tells Queen Anne News that police never addressed the alleged offenses — public urination and open container. Lewis’ General Offense (GO) Report makes no mention of the men urinating or possessing an open container of liquor.

Zulfiqar identified Francisco Hayward, 34, as the one who punched him when he intervened in an assault on a group of women that included Kerner. The suspect in the assault was identified in Lewis’ report as Israel J. Ragunton, 33.

According to Lewis’ report, Zulfiqar did not want to pursue charges, but did ask that Hayward admit to punching him and apologize.

Lewis stopped Hayward and Ragunton at East Pike and Boylston Avenue, observing Ragunton was “bleeding from his fingertips because of a broken nail.”

The two suspects said they were walking west on Pike when they heard unknown members of a group of women — Kerner is the only one identified in the redacted report — yelling homophobic and racial slurs at them. They said one of the women grabbed Ragunton’s wrist, and Hayward reportedly admitted to pulling Kerner’s hair, the report states, but said it was because he was trying to get Kerner off Ragunton.

It is at this point in the report that Lewis states he asked them if they believed they were targeted “because of their race and/or sexual orientation.” Ragunton and Hayward are both black, as is Lewis, who led the investigation that night.

Kerner alleges her assailants didn’t accuse her and her friends of making racist and homophobic slurs until Lewis asked them if they thought that was a motive.

“The men then seized the opportunity and alleged that the Plaintiff had yelled racial and homophobic slurs at them,” her complaint states.

While Hayward apologized to Zulfiqar, Lewis writes in his report that he did not admit to being the one who punched the man.

“Defendant Officer Lewis then released the men without making any arrest and traveled with another Defendant, SPD Sergeant Raguso, and went to the scene where the attack occurred and where the Plaintiff was waiting in an ambulance.”

Kerner provided her statement about being on the scissor lift, and that Hayward’s group had called her and her friends bitches, and that Hayward had “grabbed a handful of her hair and pulled,” according to the report.

“Officers were unable to locate any independent witnesses,” according to Lewis’ report. “Both parties stated that the assaults were unprovoked. I provided both parties with business cards

and case numbers.”

Kerner accuses Lewis of siding with the alleged assailants, none of who were arrested, “and implied she deserved to be attacked,” the complaint states.

She accuses SPD of falsifying the police report, violating the code of conduct, failing to investigate, misconduct and violating her 14th Amendment rights to due process and equal protection.

“It was atrociously mishandled by the police department,” Kerner tells Queen Anne News.

The Office of Police Accountability received a complaint on Oct. 16, where Kerner alleged Lewis accused her of being homophobic and racist, rolled his eyes at her, dismissed her statement and called her crazy to other officers.

“The Complainant also alleged that a proper investigation to the assault was not conducted because she was a white female,” according to an OPA classification report.

The OPA found Kerner’s telling of the incident was corroborated by her friends, and that it was Ragunton who had punched Zalqifar, but Ragunton claimed it was in self-defense.

While speaking with Kerner, Lewis was “argumentative and apparently aggravated,” the OPA found, and referred to Kerner as “crazy.”

“He would turn away from her, react to her statements as if he was annoyed, and spoke over her. He was accusatory and clearly appeared not to believe the

Complainant’s account that she did not use racial and homophobic slurs against the three individuals,” reads the Closed Case Summary by the OPA issued on March 29. “I note that this was a significant departure from his much calmer demeanor towards the three individuals.”

While Lewis did not have his body worn video or audio recording while interviewing Kerner, another officer did.

“I’m writing up a police report. I’m going to put your side of the story,  their side of the story,” Lewis told Kerner. “A prosecutor is going to take it, and somebody is going to get charged.”

Kerner, who is 5-foot-7-inches and 108 pounds, asked why she would attack three large men, to which an unidentified officer responded, “Stranger things have happened, ma’am.”

The OPA summary states two ambulance crew members also reported Lewis’ conduct during his interactions with Kerner as unprofessional.

“The AMR crew members indicated their perception of the incident and NE#1’s (Lewis’) behavior in the AMR report,” according to the Case Closed Summary. “I note that I have never seen this occur previously in any case that I have reviewed. This suggested to me how disturbed

these individuals were by NE#1’s conduct.”

The report also states it is unclear why Lewis put more credence on the testimony of the three alleged assailants over Kerner’s, questioning why Kerner and her friends would suddenly use racist and homophobic slurs against the the men, one of those friend’s herself being African-American.

“Moreover, had this occurred, it would have followed that other people in the near vicinity not associated with the Complainant would have heard the slurs,” the summary report states. “However, no one else reported this.”

Lewis had his own theory as to why he’d upset Kerner, which he shared with several officers outside the ambulance where Kerner was being treated.

“I think what made her upset was she said, ‘My friend was black, my friend was black, I would never call anyone the N-word,’” Lewis told the other officers, “and I said, ‘I’ve been called the N-word by a white person with his black friend in the car, so that means nothing.’”

The officers then proceeded to mock Kerner’s injuries and question why she was being transported to the hospital.

The summary report also states Lewis and other officers failed to run background checks on any of the individuals during the incident.

“Indeed, the Complainant, herself, engaged in this inquiry after the fact and determined that the other individual had been arrested for assault on several occasions,” the summary report states. “Certainly, this would have been an important fact for the officers to have been aware of.”

The OPA found the complaint of unprofessional conduct sustained, as well as a complaint that Lewis had improperly categorized the incident as a disturbance rather than a bias crime in his General Offense (GO) Report. The OPA further found that the officer failed to collect physical evidence, conduct comprehensive interviews with Kerner’s friends, canvas the area for independent witnesses, and include information in his GO Report detailing why the three men felt they had been targeted because of their race and sexual orientations.

Lewis was not found to have conducted bias policing despite his unprofessional interaction with Kerner, according to the OPA, as there was no way to prove Lewis’ status as a black man caused him to believe Kerner’s alleged attackers over her.

The OPA also investigated a complaint against Seattle Police Sgt. Douglas Raguso, who had responded to the scene.

While the OPA found Raguso did a poor job overseeing the investigation and providing required followup, it was recommended that the police sergeant receives retraining regarding his responsibilities when called to the scene of a malicious harassment investigation.

“I let them know in the ambulance that night that I wasn’t going to let this go,” Kerner tells Queen Anne News.

Kerner said she’s disgusted about being accused of being racist and homophobic.

She argues in her complaint that she went to Garfield High School, “where approximately 60% of the student population are minorities,” and that one of the friends she had been waiting for while on the lift was African American.

“The reason the Plaintiff was sitting on the lift was to avoid any possible danger by staying out of the crowded sidewalk where she has seen fights break out,” the complaint states.

Kerner’s lawsuit is scheduled for a status conference in U.S. District Court on Jan. 15.

She had also filed a motion to intervene in the U.S. Department of Justice’s case against the City of Seattle that was the impetus for the 2012 consent decree, which resulted in SPD making reforms to address a documented history of biased policing and excessive force.

Kerner said she didn’t believe the drop in biased policing was accurate because the police department had misclassified her case and likely others. Her motion was denied.

“I think Judge Robart is one of the most respectable judges in there,” Kerner said, “because I don’t think any of those other judges would have considered my motion to intervene.”

In his incident report, Lewis writes that Kerner has a drug and alcohol disability.

“That, I have literally no idea,” Kerner tells Queen Anne News. “I think it was just an attempt to discredit me.”

She said she had a bloody Mary and vodka soda that night, and that her last drink was at 10 p.m. Lewis was called to respond to the assault at 12:48 a.m.

Medical reports submitted by Kerner in her complaint document a quadriceps contusion. She went back to Virginia Mason Medical Center on Oct. 15, 2017, where she received a discharge diagnosis of anxiety. The next day she went to Virginia Mason’s dermatology clinic for a second opinion about her hair loss, and was informed it should grow back. Kerner went back to the hospital on Oct. 18, 2017 to confirm whether a screw in her right arm had been dislodged; an X-ray determined it had not been, according to medical records.

“That event really did change me in more ways than one,” she said.

Kerner writes in her complaint that she sought psychiatric treatment last December due to continued nightmares, anxiety and hyper vigilance at night.

“She was diagnosed with acute stress disorder and was prescribed a medication typically prescribed to veterans with PTSD to reduce nightmares and was urged to seek therapy to prevent the development of PTSD,” the complaint states.

Kerner tells Queen Anne News she is no longer taking the medication, but a recent encounter with a private attorney hired by the city to defend it in this case left her shaken and upset.

Kerner is suing for misconduct, false reporting, malicious harassment, failure of duty, and violation of her Fifth and 14th Amendment rights, for which she is seeking $50,000 in emotional damages and another $50,000 in punitive damages. Kerner also wants it stricken from the reports that she has a drug and alcohol disability.