Zelaido Rivera Garcia went to the Minneapolis impound lot in 2008 to pick up his car. His encounter with Metro Gang Strike Force officers left him shaken, reports the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Garcia said police humiliated and taunted him and others. “We had not done anything,” he said. “We were just trying to retrieve our car that had been picked up by the tow truck.” Officers took Garcia’s wallet. When they returned it, he said, $100 was missing. That $100, and the ordeals of others whose money was seized by strike force officers, mushroomed to a $3 million settlement of a federal lawsuit announced yesterday.
Up to 200 people could be eligible for awards, said Randy Hopper, an attorney for the plaintiffs. After claims are paid, a “significant portion of the settlement will fund additional statewide” training for officers “about cultural and racial sensitivity, property handling procedures and basic constitutional rights.” One year and five days before the settlement was announced, an independent review of the now-defunct Metro Gang Strike Force was issued.