Despite opposition from Kitsap officials, settlement stands

Despite county officials venting after Kitsap County’s insurer decided to settle with the family of a man killed by deputies in 2006, there isn’t much to be done.

The Washington Counties Risk Pool, made up of 28 counties, reached a settlement of $217,500 with the parents and estate of Shane Williams, 26.

Williams was shot nine times and killed by sheriff’s deptuies in 2006 when he approached them with a machete. Deputies had been called to Williams’ mother’s house in Navy Yard City and confronted Williams, who had battled mental illness and drug addiction.

Witnesses listed in court documents, however, alleged Williams’ had his hands in the air prior to being shot, and that the machete had been moved following the shooting.

The county will be responsible for $100,000 to meet its deductible.

There is no appeal, and dropping out of the pool is more complicated than just shopping for a different policy.

“At this point it’s pretty much a done deal,” said Deputy Prosecutor Ione George, attorney for the county.

In a prepared statement released a week ago, all three county commissioners, Prosecutor Russ Hauge and Sheriff Steve Boyer blasted the decision.

“This settlement sends the wrong message to each deputy who risks his or her life to ensure our safety,” Boyer said in the statement.

The attorney representing Williams’ family and estate, Guy Beckett, said the cost of a trial, plus pro-police sentiment following a spate of murdered and wounded law enforcement officers since October, made bringing the case before a jury risky.

“They are satisfied,” Beckett said of the family’s settlement, adding the money is intended to help Williams’ daughter, 6.

On top of ratched up rates, the county is responsible for the $100,000 deductible on the settlement, said Mark Abernathy, risk manager for the county. However, Abernathy noted that money had been spent defending the county against the suit.

Kitsap was one of the founding members of the pool in 1988, created to help lower high insurance premiums counties and other public agencies faced.

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