Conviction tossed for man who claimed 'vindictive prosecution'

SEATTLE -- It took three years, but a Seattle man who claims he was the victim of vindictive prosecution finally had his record wiped clean on Wednesday.

{A href=""}Donald Fuller had been waiting a long time for this day, when his conviction for obstructing Seattle police would disappear from his record.

"It's a good feeling," Fuller said. "It's a good feeling, (and) now I can go ahead and focus on a few other things."

The ordeal started in March 2009, when Seattle police stopped Fuller and accused him of jaywalking. When he questioned the stop, Fuller said police tased him several times before arresting him and booking him into jail.

Both the King County Prosecutor's Office and the City Attorney's Office initially declined to file charges in the case. Fuller then complained to the Seattle Police Department's Office of Professional Accountability, which promises not to retaliate against complainants.

But Fuller believes that's exactly what happened. The OPA investigator's own case notes show that she hand carried Fuller's police report to the City Attorney's Office. She then met with a different city attorney, who agreed to reconsider the case and file charges against Fuller.

This fall, attorney James Egan found those OPA records, and he called the incident a clear case of vindictive prosecution. He was also able to get the city to remove the conviction from Fuller's record.

In a statement, the city attorney said while there was "absolutely no prosecutorial misconduct in this case," they agree Fuller was entitled to rely on the OPA's policy that filing a complain won't affect other proceedings.

Egan has now filed a $1.5 million claim for damages on Fuller's behalf.

"The city cannot unring the bell and make it like this didn't happen just by deleting the conviction," Egan said.

The city now has 60 days to consider Fuller's claim for damages. If there's no settlement, Egan plans to file a lawsuit in Federal District Court. A spokesman for the City Attorney's Office said they do not believe Fuller is due any damages and they will vigorously defend the city.