The city attorney's office has refiled hit-and-run charges against Leo Etherly—the man who's also at the heart of a police brutality lawsuit filed against the Seattle Police Department—for allegedly hitting a 58-year-old female cyclist in the Central District last October. City Attorney Pete Holmes office has also charged Etherly with driving with a suspended license.
Holmes office states that the cyclist was approaching the intersection of 29th Ave and East Jefferson St when Etherly allegedly hit her from behind in his 1996 Chevrolet van. Etherly reportedly stopped, got out of his van and checked on the victim, who asked him to call the police. Instead, Etherly allegedly got back into his van and left the scene without providing his name or insurance information.
Minutes later, Seattle police spotted the suspect's van and pulled into a parking lot to question its driver, Etherly. That's when the confrontation "immediately escalated into violence," according to Etherly's lawyer, James Egan. (Here's dash-cam video of the confrontation.) The police department's Office of Professional Accountability has launched an internal investigation into the responding officers' actions.
The city initially charged Etherly with hit-and-run for striking the cyclist, along with misdemeanor assault for allegedly spitting on officers during their "questioning." Those misdemeanor charges were later dropped at the request of a SPD detective, who wanted the King County Prosecutor’s Office to consider felony charges against Etherly. The county declined, at which point the City’s Criminal Division began to re-investigate the case.
Holmes's office says assault charge against Etherly was not refiled because, upon further investigation, they didn't believe a jury would return a guilty verdict against Etherly.