Cleveland has agreed to pay more than $13.2 million to settle lawsuits involving police misconduct since the 2014 death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, an officer shooting death that came at a time when the public started scrutinizing police actions, reports Cleveland.com. The 26 settlements, which because it is self-insured come out of the city’s budget, include some of the largest the city has ever paid on behalf of officers accused of misconduct. The Rice settlement is included in that number. Also included are smaller but still significant settlements for cases where people did not die.
In the 26 months since Tamir Rice’s death, the city far surpassed the $8 million it paid to settle similar cases in the preceding decade. City spokesman Dan Williams said the city’s court-mandated police reform, which came after a U.S. Justice Department investigation, “is a tool that helps us reduce the incidents of the use of force that result in lawsuits.” Mayor Frank Jackson, in a cleveland.com editorial board meeting this month, noted that settlement amounts have become higher in recent years as a national spotlight has shone on the issue of police misconduct. “There used to be a time where you settle for a few hundred thousand dollars and that was it. Judges don’t even allow you to bring in that as a minimum offer anymore,” Jackson said. The city also has about $17.7 million to pay for judgments in two police misconduct cases from 1999 and 2012. Both are being challenged in appeals courts.