Two Colombian brothers received $1.2 million after spending a combined 17 years in prison for armed robbery convictions that were eventually thrown out. A 12-year-old girl collected $115,000 after her arrest for doodling on her junior high school desk with a green erasable marker. A small-time thief got $150,000 after accusing cops of smashing his head through the windshield of a car while he was in handcuffs. DNAinfo.com reports that the hefty sums were among 35 settlements and judgments worth $100,000 or more that the city paid between July 1, 2011, and June 30, 2012, to end lawsuits accusing the police department of violating civil rights.
The three-dozen cases cost the city $22.8 million, say data compiled by the city comptroller’s office. The largest payout this past year was $15 million to settle a class-action lawsuit accusing police of illegal arrests for loitering. Accusations in the other lawsuits run the gamut — from illegal arrests to police brutality to cops withholding medication from inmates. Civil rights advocates say the costly settlements and judgments should force the police department to reassess its tactics. Accusations of civil-rights violations have risen in recent years, says the comptroller’s office. Between July 1, 2010, and June 30, 2011, 2,241 civil rights claims were filed against police, up 23 percent from the 1,826 claims filed a year earlier.