The city of Denver has spent nearly $6.2 million since 2004 to settle lawsuits involving police officers, and nearly all of the payouts were for allegations of excessive force, the Denver Post reports. City Attorney David Fine gave the details yesterday to a City Council committee. Council members asked Fine to research litigation patterns after controversy erupted last month over a video that showed an officer beating a 23-year-old man who was talking on a cellphone.
Since 2004, the average settlement in Denver for an excessive-force claim was about $97,000. The city paid nearly $3 million to settle three lawsuits, pushing the average up. In all, the city paid out $5 million in settlements for excessive force since 2004. The city attorney’s office has handled 63 excessive-force lawsuits against police since 2004, ranging from a high of 16 last year to a low of six in 2007. “The number of excessive-force cases we have seen filed, and that we have handled, have remained relatively static in the last few years,” Fine told council members. “Excluding settlements in a few egregious cases, you don’t see a trend of payments going up over time.” Safety Manager Ron Perea resigned last month after he faced criticism for keeping on the force two officers accused of beating a man doing nothing but talking on a cellphone, and for retaining an officer accused of beating another man.