Accused Funhouse Stabber Gets Sprung
This was David Packman's introduction to the King County justice system: On November 5, he was arrested and thrown in jail—all on the basis of eyewitnesses who handed him to police, already beaten and bleeding. The crowd swore that the 36-year-old father of two had just stabbed a man inside the Funhouse bar. The victim was released from the hospital later that day with minor injuries. Packman had a longer wait. Despite a lack of physical evidence—the knife was never found—and several discrepancies in police and prosecutors' accounts of what happened, the system ground on ["Stab in the Dark," Angela Valdez, Nov 16]. Packman was charged with first-degree assault and sat in jail for more than a month before he was released on electronic surveillance. (His co-defendant David Hinz, accused of kicking the victim, was released after just one day.)
On January 5, two months after Packman's first encounter with handcuffs, the justice system spat both defendants out. King County prosecutors dropped all charges but wouldn't comment further because the investigation is "ongoing."
"We filed the charges based on what we knew at the time, as with any criminal case," said King County Prosecutor's Office spokesman Dan Donohoe. "We reviewed the surveillance video from the bar and could no longer prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt." Donohoe wouldn't comment on other suspects, or why it took two months to view the tape, which has not been released.
Packman is happy to be back at home with his wife and sons, and back at his job with a technical consultancy. But his view of cops and courts has darkened considerably. "You know I used to watch movies about people being falsely accused and I thought, 'That doesn't happen,'" he said. "Now that it's happened to me, I have no faith in the system whatsoever."
Packman says police didn't read him his rights. At the station, he says, an officer ordered him to disrobe and, seeing the tattoo of a punk on his shoulder, accused him of belonging to FSU, or Friends Stand United, a gang of hardcore fans that has been blamed for violence at shows. Later, in jail, he says, guards refused his requests for medical attention. His first lawyer, a public defender, urged him to take a plea deal.
Partially because of the article published in The Stranger, Packman's wife began receiving donations for her husband's defense. The money made a dent in the thousands of dollars the family now owes for the attorney who sprung Packman from jail.
Although "everyone" has encouraged him to sue, Packman says he hasn't even begun to think about that one.