Homeless man wins harassment settlement from San Diego police

 Zack Smith, a homeless man who is living in Pacific Beach, has filed a claim against the city of San Diego alleging harassment.
Zack Smith, a homeless man who is living in Pacific Beach, settled his harassment claim against San Diego for $15,000.
(John Gibbins / San Diego Union-Tribune)

The city of San Diego has agreed to pay $15,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a homeless man who accused police of harassment and improper arrests.

Zack Green, who has lived on the streets in and around Pacific Beach for decades, will get $7,500 and his lawyers will collect $7,500 in legal fees and other costs. The initial complaint sought $1 million in damages.

Green accepted the settlement last month, and the agreement was approved by the judge and posted online Monday.

“The client thought $7,500 was adequate for his time in jail,” said Edward A. Rose Jr., one of Green’s lawyers. “It’s what he said was acceptable to him.”


Green, who could not be reached  for comment, sued the city of San Diego and police Officer Colin Governski last year. He said he was wrongly targeted and jailed without facing criminal charges.

“They are just shaking me down,” Green told the San Diego Union-Tribune in September, when he filed the federal lawsuit. “You get in their crosshairs, they come after you kind of strong.”

Gerry Braun, a spokesman for the city attorney’s office, did not respond to a request for comment. Previously, city lawyers said the lawsuit was without merit and asked a judge to throw out the case.

Among other allegations, Green said Governski arrested him for violating a court order he did not violate. Specifically, Green said he was riding his bicycle past the Pacific Beach branch library — but never stopped. He was taken into custody under a prior court order prohibiting him from being on the library property.


Green spent three days in custody but was not charged with a crime. When he was released from jail, police did not return his cellphone or his dentures, the lawsuit said.

The original complaint accused San Diego police of arresting and locking up homeless people under an agreement with the city attorney’s office that the suspects would not be formally charged.

Green said he and others were jailed multiple times for up to three days without being brought before a judge. City officials denied the allegation

McDonald writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune