Framed for Murder at Age 16, Man Sues Police Who Set Him Up

Ian Simmers spent nearly 23 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit

SEATTLE, WA – A Kent man today sued Bothell, WA and King County and several of their police officers in federal court for illegally coercing a false murder confession out of him in 1995 when was 16-years-old.

That and other false evidence manufactured by Bothell police officers, and the suppression of exonerating evidence, led a court to sentence the teenaged Ian Simmers to nearly 50 years in prison.

Simmers and a 14-year-old friend were picked up by police for allegedly shooting off flare guns near Lake Washington a few days after the brutal murder of a 35-year-old, Rodney Gochanaur. Despite having no probable cause to link the boys to Mr. Gochanaur’s murder, Bothell and King County police officers held them incommunicado from parents and Simmers’ attorney, ignored Simmer’s request to remain silent, and berated and cajoled the boys through the night. Simmers’ mother was refused access to her son. Isolated and exhausted, after nearly 10 hours Simmers finally gave a transparently false confession full of wrong information about the murder.

To give the “confession” the appearance of truthfulness, the officers fed Simmers details of the crime known only to the police and the actual murderer, and only recorded Simmers’ statements after Simmer’s will had been overborne. The officers used tactics on Simmers, a venerable juvenile, that would have been inappropriate when used against adults, let alone against a child during an overnight interrogation, the suit alleges. The suit further alleges that such patently wrongful tactics were used by two agencies in a joint operation illustrates the faulty and unconstitutional practices, as well as the  negligence of, the City of Bothell and King County, whose officers should have known not to treat children in such a manner.  

There was no physical evidence linking Simmers to the crime. Based solely on the alleged confession and an incentivized jailhouse “informant” whom he allegedly also confessed to, Simmers spent his life from age 16 to nearly age 40 behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit, the suit alleges. DNA testing of the murder weapon, definitively clearing him, finally led to his release in 2019, when Simmers was represented by Maureen Devlin, a Seattle defense attorney.

Since his release, Simmers has attempted to build a life for himself, working at Amazon fulfillment center in Kent, and lives with his mother nearby. Simmers’ mother stood by her son for the decades he was wrongfully imprisoned and was his biggest, and steadfast, advocate.

Mr. Simmers is represented by David B. Owens and John Hazinski of Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law. Loevy & Loevy is one of the nation’s largest civil rights law firms and has won more multi-million-dollar jury verdicts than any other civil rights law firm in the country. A copy of the suit, Ian Simmers vs. King County, the City of Bothell, Det. Edward J. Hopkins, Sgt. Clement Rusk, Det. Rebecca Miner, Det. John McSwain, Detective Pat Raftus, Detective Ken Baxter, Chief Mark Ericks, Det. Sgt. David Schlaegel, and Maj. Jackson Beard, Unknown Officers of the City of Bothell Police Department, and Unknown Sheriff Deputies of King County, Case No. 2:21-cv-00100 can be found here.

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