Philadelphia has begun settling more than 300 lawsuits against onetime members of an infamous narcotics squad accused of fabricating evidence, illegal searches and other misconduct. There could be an onslaught of payments by the city to resolve police misconduct lawsuits, Philly.com reports. The price tag for just three high-profile cases could approach $24 million, up to $8 million for the narcotics squad cases, and a combined $16 million for two unrelated claims of wrongful murder convictions. The murder case lawsuits may take months or years to resolve, but the city has paid more than $2 million to settle 75 cases against the narcotics officers.
All of that comes on top of the $9 million typically paid each year to settle dozens of less publicized civil rights claims against the police. Alan Yatvin, liaison counsel for the dozens of lawyers representing hundreds of plaintiffs against the narcotics officers, contends those payouts are a consequence of years’ worth of unchecked abuses. Prosecutors have thrown out 1,000 convictions the narcotics officers helped build, with about 240 still under review, says public defender Bradley Bridge. Six of the narcotics officers were vindicated in a 2015 criminal trial that aired many of the same accusations against them, such as theft, beatings, and evidence-free raids. Five of them are back on the police force. Jack McMahon, who led their defense during the federal corruption trial, said the fact the city was settling cases against them was “disgraceful” and a way for “lying drug dealers” to make an easy buck.