Defense attorney maintains Derrick Coleman was concussed, says police report omits key information

Feb 1, 2016, 4:35 PM | Updated: Feb 2, 2016, 9:35 am
Derrick Coleman’s attorney says potentially important crash data is missing from Bellevue Pol...
Derrick Coleman's attorney says potentially important crash data is missing from Bellevue Police's report. (BPD)
(BPD)
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The defense attorney who is representing Derrick Coleman maintains that the Seahawks fullback was concussed in the immediate aftermath of his October car accident and says some important information is missing from the police report.

Last week, the Bellevue Police Department recommended that the King County Prosecutor’s Office file charges of vehicular assault and hit-and-run against the 25-year-old Coleman stemming from a two-car accident on Oct. 14 that left the driver of the other vehicle with a broken collarbone and a head injury of his own.

Bellevue-based defense attorney Diego Vargas told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny O’Neil a day after the accident that Coleman did not knowingly leave the scene, saying that the defense’s belief was that he sustained a concussion. Appearing on “The John Clayton Show” Saturday, Vargas stated definitively that Coleman – who is legally deaf – was concussed as a result of the accident.

Listen: Derrick Coleman’s defense attorney on “The John Clayton Show”

“We have medical documentation that establishes that. The Seahawks relied on that medical documentation and they put him on the concussion protocol,” Vargas said. “So you have an individual who was knocked out temporarily in the accident, suffered a concussion, lost his hearing aid, is deaf and became disoriented. So I imagine coming to in that situation and then thinking you hit another car but when you get out of your vehicle you can’t see another car there because it’s on an elevated portion of the side of the roadway had to be very disorienting and very frightening for him.”

Coleman was arrested following the accident and suspended by the Seahawks the next day. Upon his reinstatement a week later, Coleman was listed on the team’s injury report as having not practiced and was ruled out for Seattle’s Thursday night game due to a concussion.

According to BPD’s report, Coleman’s Dodge Ram truck was traveling 60 mph – 25 mph over the posted speed limit – on SE 36th Street in Bellevue when it struck the back of a Honda Civic, forcing it up an embankment before it flipped over and came to rest on its hood. The report stated that “Following initial contact, Coleman’s foot remained on the accelerator at 100% for several seconds and he never activated the vehicle’s brakes.”

Vargas questioned why police omitted from their report data from the airbag control module in Coleman’s truck, which could indicate, among other things, how fast it was traveling at the time of the accident and whether or not the brakes were deployed.

“It appears from reports that information was downloaded but nowhere in the reports do they mention that information,” Vargas said. “That concerns me because they’re basing their allegations of the speed – based on these reports – from the two witnesses, one who estimated the vehicle speed at around 50 miles an hour, another one who estimated around 60 miles an hour. But we would have more clear information with that airbag control module data. Why isn’t that in the report? Why don’t we have that? I find that very concerning.”

Vargas also questioned the integrity of one of the Bellevue Police officers involved in the investigation, noting that Doug Brennan was fired in April of 2014 following an incident in which he failed to cite a fellow cop for drunken driving. According to Vargas, Brennan’s termination was later overturned on appeal. Brennan is identified in the Coleman police report as a collision investigator with BPD’s traffic unit.

“I find that very troubling that the chief of police came out and said that their investigation was rock-solid and that it was done with integrity when this individual that they fired for being dishonest is one of the guys who’s performing a very crucial portion of the investigation,” he said. “That concerns me a great deal.”

Vargas said he expects the King County Prosecutor’s Office to decide within the next four weeks whether or not it will file charges.

Vargas told Clayton, “I’m hoping that your listeners will reserve judgment, take their time, wait until all the facts unfold and then give Derrick his day.”

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Defense attorney maintains Derrick Coleman was concussed, says police report omits key information