Friday's Minneapolis City Council meeting brought two different payouts over one alleged police misconduct incident. The full council approved a $10,000 payday to Christopher D. Perry and $5,000 to his brother Mario P. Perry, who was a juvenile when the two ran afoul of the cops on November 16, 2004.
Payouts over claims of police misconduct are nothing new in this town (see "The Hit Parade Revisited," CP 7/20/2005), but this incident seemed rooted in some rather, uh, dubious behavior. According to a city attorney's memo urging the council to approve settlement, MPD officers James Burns and Michael Geere were cruising the north side looking for "an identified murder suspect known to frequent" 4050 Bryant Avenue North. The officers found a car "with four occupants" illegally parked in the alley behind the address. Officer Burns approached the car and "smelled marijuana and saw a 'philly blunt' in the ashtray," according to the memo from the city attorney's office.
From there various high jinks ensued, and accounts predictably differ, but someone on the scene was arrested after allegedly wielding a tire iron, insults were hurled, and at some point the Perry brothers resisted arrest. One thing all parties agree on is that force was used by the police officers. As a result, both brothers "received various scrapes and bruises," and Chris Perry suffered a broken tooth, according to the account from the city attorney's office, which is no doubt vague on some details.
The Perry payouts are the third and fourth police-related settlements so far this year, bringing a grand total of 32,000 taxpayer dollars doled out to save the hides of the men in blue in a court of law. Though the number of payouts hit a high in 2004, with some 24 settlements paying out more than $2 million, last year the city forked over only $633,250 over 10 alleged MPD misconduct incidents. Still, payouts over use of force and other allegations against the police likely won't go away soon. "It's a total crapshoot," says one city hall insider. "There is no predictable trend year to year."
The Perry situation mostly went up in smoke: An obstruction charge against Chris was dismissed, and Mario was never charged with any crime. "This was a totally unnecessary incident, but they got hurt," says Al Goins, attorney for the Perry brothers, adding that the settlement was "small potatoes." "The city got a look at these kids, decided their records were clean and that they were going to present well in a trial, so they settled. The main issue is whether the city is going to get serious about reigning in its department over use of force."