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Seattle police file federal lawsuit over 'use of force' policy

By Victoria Cavaliere

(Reuters) - Seattle police officers filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday challenging new policies that restrict use of force, saying the rules endanger lives of both officers and civilians.

More than 120 officers have joined the lawsuit, which seeks a complete dismantling of a new use of force policy hammered out between the Seattle Police Department and the U.S. Department of Justice to stem an alleged pattern of excessive force.

The Seattle Police Department has been under federal monitoring since 2012, following an investigation into a series of incidents in which officers appeared to engage in excessive force, particularly against minorities.

The lawsuit says the policy, which went into effect this year, "unreasonably restrict and burden Plaintiffs' right to use force reasonably required, to protect themselves and others from apparent harm and danger."

The officers are seeking financial compensation and a complete overhaul of the policy, calling it "unconstitutional and beyond repair."

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the city of Seattle and Mayor Ed Murray are among those targeted in the lawsuit.

Murray declined to comment on the lawsuit, but told local media "We are under a federally mandated court order. We will follow that court order."

"The Justice Department and the federal courts say we need to deal with issues of use of force as well as other issues in our police department," he told Seattle's Fox affiliate.

(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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