Seattle Police Officer’s Health Damaged In Homeless Camp Clean-Up, $10 Million Suit Claims

Lawsuit says he was exposed to extremely dangerous toxin

Image Credits: George Rose/Getty Images.

A Seattle police officer was exposed to an “an extremely dangerous man-made toxin” while cleaning up a homeless camp in the city, according to a $10 million lawsuit.

Timothy Gifford was reportedly assigned to assist city workers in clearing illegal vagrant encampments around Seattle.

He says he came in contact with “high concentrations of the toxic chemical compounds polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) during the Jan. 8 cleanup of the camp in a gravel lot along Denver Avenue South near First Avenue South,” the Seattle Times reports.

“As a result of the alleged exposure, Gifford claims, he has been diagnosed with early onset Type 2 diabetes and now generally suffers from poor health. The 5-foot-6, 159-pound officer previously had been in good physical health, managing a lifelong liver condition during his more than seven years in police work, said his attorney, Lincoln Beauregard.”

Beauregard says Gifford now “faces ongoing medical care,” as his susceptible liver has been further damaged due to PCB exposure.

Gifford’s suit says he “was neither warned or trained of the associated hazards or issued appropriate protective gear.”

Testing conducted at the site revealed that PCBs were found in concentrations as high as 40,300 parts per million.

The FDA considers concentrations above one part per million as a safety concern, according to an EPA toxic cleanup project coordinator.

“Now assigned to the police department’s Harbor Patrol Unit, Gifford was among the city’s Navigation Team of police officers and outreach workers assigned to coax homeless campers into shelters and remove encampments the city has deemed unsafe,” the Times reports.

“The city formed the team in February 2017 as it intensified efforts to clean up and remove dozens of homeless encampments — from small one- and two-shelter camps to those with multiple tents — as part of a strategy to address Seattle’s homelessness crisis.”

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