The Los Angeles Police Department paid nearly $81 million in legal settlements in the last fiscal year, a sharp increase as the city closed the books on several high-profile and costly cases, reports the Los Angeles Times. The settlement numbers were significantly higher than in previous years and involved cases that had been working their way through the court system for the last few years. Among them were two wrongful convictions of men for separate murders. The men each spent more than 25 years behind bars. The department settled their cases for about $24 million. Another $15 million went to a boy left paralyzed after an officer shot him. The city settles a case that it fought all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court involving a man who was shot by officers while holding a cellphone they apparently mistook for a gun. The city paid $7 million.
LAPD’s risk manager said that three cases alone accounted for more than $39 million. “It is a few cases that create the most liability,” Commander Michael Hyams said. “It is not hundreds of cases.” Hyams expects that number to be lower by June 30, the end of this fiscal year. Payouts are running about $19 million so far this year, mostly driven by a series of large police shooting settlements. That would reverse a five-year upward trend in payouts for legal claims. The city attorney’s office is looking at altering risk management practices with an eye on how to handle these cases better and reduce liability. Among the changes is trying to settle problem cases more quickly to contain costs.