An agreement to pay nearly $1 million to a man who said he was beaten by police means Minneapolis has paid more to settle such claims than in any 12-month reporting period since 1998, says the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “No question this is a big year,” acting Deputy City Attorney Peter Ginder said. Since December 2003, the city has paid $1.6 million to resolve seven cases. The city attorney’s office called this year’s settlements an aberration; the record pace of payments has some council members concerned and looking to new Police Chief Bill McManus for answers.
Four of the settlements, were negotiated by one attorney: Robert Bennett, who also represents police officer Duy Ngo, who has filed a lawsuit charging that officer Charles Storlie violated Ngo’s civil rights by improperly using deadly force. Bennett said has asked for a settlement of $9.75 million. Bennett says it may take more courage for elected officials to settle than to go to trial. “When they settle, they have to explain to their constituents why the money was spent,” Bennett said. “If they lose in a trial, they can just blame it on the jury.” Council Members Robert Lilligren and Paul Zerby are concerned about the recent payments. “We need to get a good tight analysis of what has happened in these cases and what we should do about it,” Zerby said.