In his years as a lawyer taking on cases of alleged police misconduct by the MPD, Bob Bennett has seen his share of cuts and scrapes, euphemistic police reports, and general bad cop behavior. But the case of Walter Childs, to whom the Minneapolis City Council agreed to pay $75,000 to last Friday, had all three in spades.
According to a memo from the city attorney's office, on May 10, 2006, MPD officers James Burns and Michael Geere were responding to a stolen vehicle report on the city's north side, in the 4th precinct. The cops pulled over two juveniles, who were driving a car that led the officers to the 3300 block of Emerson Avenue North. There they encountered Childs, who was asked by the officers to come out of the house and identify the boys.
"Once Childs was out of the house," the city attorney's report reads, "Burns took him down to the ground to handcuff and arrest him."
The report notes that Childs "did not resist arrest or attempt to flee," but that "an injury to his left leg" was "later diagnosed with a vertical fracture through the medial aspect of the lateral tibial plateau."
"It's a real bad facture," Bennett says, explaining that where the femur and tibia meet under the knee cap was essentially turned to pulp. "They did a huge leg sweep on him. And the force was very severe."
Childs was later taken to HCMC, where he stayed for eight days before doctors got around to operating on his leg.
Bennett already got $24,000 from the county on Childs's behalf, and the city apparently didn't have the stomach to take the case to trial. It's not the biggest settlement Bennett has secured from the city, but the case leaves him upset anyway. First, he notes that some MPD cops still believe that "there are some people—because of their class or status—you can get away with bad behavior and have very little concern for the consequences."
Aside from that, Bennett is troubled by the violence that must have happened—and the fact that is was apparently unnecessary. "The money is indicative of both the lack of proper justification of the great force required for the injury and the injury itself," Bennett says, adding that his client was "complying" with the police. "To take him down because [Burns] thought [Childs] might flee, and then say he was just assisting him to the ground, that's just bullshit."