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Supreme Court upholds ruling against FW police in woman's murder

The Washington State Supreme Court unanimously upheld a $1.1 million civil judgment Thursday in a Federal Way police negligence case involving the murder of a 66-year-old woman in 2008.

In May 2008, Baerbel Roznowski, 66, was stabbed 18 times by her boyfriend, Chan Ok "Paul" Kim, just hours after a Federal Way police officer delivered an anti-harassment protection order.

The civil suit claimed that Roznowski's death could have been avoided had Federal Way police officer Andy Hensing, who served the order, read the Law Enforcement Information Sheet that accompanied the order.

The protection order contained information on Kim's history of assault and violent behavior, along with provisions that restrained Kim from contact with Roznowski. The order stated that an interpreter who spoke Korean would be needed to ensure Kim understood the provisions.

According to Federal Way, following the service of the non-domestic violence order, Chan left the residence and later returned, committed the homicide, then attempted suicide.

"Bensing knew, or should have known, that Roznowski and Kim were both present and that his service of the anti-harassment order might trigger Kim to act violently," said the Supreme Court opinion written by Justice Mary Fairhurst. "Given this knowledge…Bensing's duty to act reasonably required him to take steps to guard Roznowski against Kim's criminal acts."

In 2010, Kim was sentenced to 244 months in prison for the murder of Roznowski. Kim pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

“The city has not fully reviewed the court’s decision," Federal Way Police Chief Brian Wilson said in a press release. "However, it appears the Supreme Court has addressed the heart of the matter and has clearly articulated the duty of a police officer when serving domestic violence and non-domestic violence orders. We fully accept the Supreme Court’s decision in this matter.”

In 2010, a jury found the Federal Way Police Department negligent in enforcing the protection order and awarded Roznowski's estate $1.1 million. The civil suit was brought by Roznowski's daughters, Carola Washburn and Janet Loh, both of California, in May 2009.

Federal Way appealed the verdict, which was upheld in March 2012 by the state Court of Appeals.

“On behalf of the men and women of the Federal Way Police Department, I want to express our sympathy, thoughts and prayers to the family regarding the death Baerbel Roznowski on May 3, 2008,” Chief Wilson stated.

 

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