Lawsuits alleging Denver cops engage in excessive force are a chronic headache for the city, with residents ponying up $1.34 million for settlements last year, reports the Denver Post. It was the second year since 2004 that settlements climbed substantially above $1 million. In 2004, the city settled the fatal shooting of Paul Childs, a mentally disabled teen who was armed with a knife, for $1.325 million.
It is often cheaper to settle the cases than take them to court, where it can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay legal experts and other costs — even if the city’s case is strong, said City Attorney Doug Friednash. In litigation, a win is never a sure thing. The average amount paid per officer to settle cases in Denver per year — $697 — is far lower than that spent by some other cities, Friednash said. He cited Associated Press data that found Chicago averaged $2,930, New York $2,700, Los Angeles $2,200, and Philadelphia $1,360. Mark Silverstein of the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, said the per-officer payouts minimize the true cost of excessive force by police. “We can’t let public officials minimize the expense of police brutality by pointing to a lower per-officer cost than other cities,” he said.