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Lawsuit alleges SPD made racist arrest in Rhino Room brawl

screen-shot-2017-02-13-at-3-10-59-pmAn April 2015 CHS blotter item has escalated into a lawsuit over allegations of biased policing and racist treatment of a black patron at Pike/Pine nightclub The Rhino Room.

Here is how CHS recorded the police report on the April 8, 2015 arrest of Sean Perryman:

A man trying to break-up an altercation inside an 11th and E Pine bar early Saturday morning ended up in an altercation of his own when he allegedly assaulted a man who also tried to intervene. According to SPD, the suspect was trying to calm an argument between a bouncer and a bar patron. When a third man approached, witnesses said the suspect punched and kicked that man, possibly dislocating his knee. The suspect was booked into King County Jail for assault.

But the SPD’s account of the early morning arrest left out a few key details revealed later in a review of security video that would eventually result in King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg and Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole both apologizing for the incident and the dropping of a charge of the third degree assault brought against Perryman.

The Seattle PI was the first to report on the lawsuit Perryman filed In January after an Office of Professional Accountability review of the arrest found no wrongdoing in the case. You can read the PI’s report and the details of how Perryman says the incident played out here. The lawsuit names the Rhino Room, SPD, and a patron the plaintiff says sparked the fighting that night as defendants.

The Rhino Room’s owner Patric Gabre-Kidan, who is black, told the PI the allegations have hurt his feelings. “It’s just not who I am,” Gabre-Kidan tells the PI.

A February 10th filing for the Rhino Room denies the lawsuit’s allegations saying that video surveillance shows its security employee declining “to engage” with one of Perryman’s group who can then be seen “accosting” the bouncer and “biting him in the leg.” The video also allegedly shows Perryman charging into the back of a second security guard, “pushing him into the railing, and it shows Perryman tackling another patron and breaking his leg, which is why the police were called and Perryman was arrested,” according to the document filed on behalf of the Rhino Room in the case.

In his lawsuit, Perryman alleges the club violated his civil rights that night by not giving him the same wristband allowing re-entry to the club that his two white counterparts received that night. It as that issue of re-entry that sparked the fighting outside the club and Perryman was arrested even though he acted as a “peace-maker” during the ensuing melee, the lawsuit contends.

In the wake of the OPA findings, Perryman’s suit seeks $500 to cover bills from treatment for damage to this teeth, legal fees, and “unspecified emotional/non-economic damages” to be determined by the court:


Perryman and his father Mercer Island Reverend Wayne Perryman are representing themselves in the lawsuit.

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