Minneapolis police brutality costs city some serious cash

Minneapolis police brutality costs city some serious cash

Image courtesy of kla4067 on Flickr.

Compared to St. Paul, Minneapolis's numbers for police misconduct payouts are way high: $700,000 versus $9.5 million from 2005 until today. To be fair, half of Minneapolis's payout is from one accidental shooting of a police officer: Duy Ngo.

The Derryl Jenkins case has put the spotlight on how some officers with the Minneapolis Police Department treat people they arrest. Jenkins's attorney released a telltale video taken from a squad car that shows five officers beating him after he was pulled over. Chief Tim Dolan has asked the FBI to look into the matter.

City Pages has long kept track of payouts that Minneapolis makes over police-related complaints. The Star Tribune recently wrote about a $495,000 settlement agreed upon last week. The bottom line is that the city has long had a history of paying out high settlements when it comes to police behavior. Why St. Paul is different isn't exactly clear. Here is the history:

In 1994, City Pages published a story on police brutality within the Minneapolis Police Department, identifying a dozen cops whose histories of doling out beatings over the previous decade had cost the department $5.8 million in settlement payouts and court costs. In 2005, City Pages again looked at police misconduct, noting that that the department settled 190 cases for about $10.9 million in the ten years that ended in 2005.

The department has taken public steps to keep officer accountable for their behavior. Back in 2003, then-Chief Bill McManus established a Bureau of Professional Standards, which overhauled the Internal Affairs Division to ensure it scrutinized use-of-force-cases. In 2006, the department changed its policy, requiring officers to report use of force to their supervisors. The MPD added cameras to squad cars and to some of its Tasers. Under Chief Tim Dolan's reign, Internal Affairs has published data on use of force.

Despite these steps, the city is still paying out big bucks over police brutality. In the past four years, Minneapolis paid about $9.5 million in about 80 police misconduct settlements: almost as much as the city paid in the preceding ten years, but in half the time.

To be fair, half of the $9.5 million is a 2007 payout from one notorious case: the shooting of undercover officer Duy Ngo by a fellow policeman in 2003. Ngo, who was permanently disabled by the injuries he sustained, won a $4.5 million settlement. Even excluding the Ngo settlement, Minneapolis is on track to earn the dubious distinction of a steady rate of police misconduct settlement lawsuits over 15 years.

That's far and above the rate of settlement payouts in St. Paul. Between 1998 and 2004, St. Paul paid $800,000 in 29 police-related lawsuits. Since then, the city has paid about $700,000.

If the rate of settlement payments is any indication, there are still some Minneapolis cops behaving badly, despite steps taken to make things better.

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