By Eric M. Johnson
SEATTLE (Reuters) - Federal prosecutors declined to file criminal civil rights charges against a Seattle police officer who punched an intoxicated 23-year-old woman as he arrested her last year, a letter from a U.S. attorney to police showed on Wednesday.
Video of the incident and photos of Miyekko Durden-Bosley with a swollen eye emerged last year as protests swept the country over the killing of unarmed black men by police in Missouri and New York City.
Prosecutors in Seattle's King County also decided in December not to charge officer Adley Shepherd in the case.
Shepherd punched Durden-Bosley once in the face after the woman, intoxicated and argumentative, allegedly kicked him as he arrested her in a domestic violence case on June 22, 2014, according to a police memo obtained by Reuters.
While the video does not clearly show Durden-Bosley kicking Shepherd, and the hospital that treated the pair said the officer suffered no significant injury, Shepherd complained of pain. Another officer said he appeared to be dazed and had difficulty talking, the memo said.
"After careful consideration, we concluded that the evidence does not establish a prosecutable violation of the federal criminal civil rights statues," said the undated letter from U.S. Attorney for Western Washington Annette Hayes to Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole.
The matter now will be investigated internally by the department's Force Investigation Team and the Office of Professional Accountability. Shepherd will remain on administrative leave while the internal investigation proceeds, the Seattle Police Department said.
The letter says Hayes does not condone the conduct. Her office declined to comment further, as did the Seattle Police Department, which posted the letter on its website on Tuesday.
Earlier this year, Durden-Bosley filed a $1 million claim against the city, saying her rights were violated.
Since the city did not address that claim, her attorney, Felix Luna, said Durden-Bosley filed a civil rights lawsuit against Shepherd and the city in state court in April.
The case was moved to federal court and is in the discovery phase, Luna said.
Shepherd denies he violated Durden-Bosley's rights and said her arrest was lawful and based on probable cause, court documents show.
(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Bill Trott)