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Continued: May 25: Minneapolis pays $3 million in police misconduct case

  • Article by: RANDY FURST , Star Tribune
  • Last update: June 1, 2013 - 9:40 PM

Said Harteau: “These two officers have been upstanding examples who do their jobs with professionalism, and I know this had been very hard on them and their families.”

Larry Smith, David Smith’s uncle, hired Bennett to pursue the suit on behalf of the Smith family. Smith, an attorney in Chicago, could not be reached for comment on Friday afternoon.

Had the case gone to trial, both sides would have presented witnesses to argue the cause of Smith’s death.

Minneapolis has seen very large payouts over police misconduct in some recent years. It paid out $4.2 million in 2011, although only $814,093 in 2012.

Bennett and his law firm have represented the majority of the litigants who have won the largest payouts in lawsuits claiming Minneapolis police misconduct.

Those cases include the $4.5 million payout to Duy Ngo, who was mistakenly shot by a fellow officer in an incident in 2003.

In the Smith suit, the nearly $2 million awarded to Bennett’s law firm covered the thousands of hours of work by lawyers and staff as well as other expenses, Bennett said.

He said three attorneys primarily worked on the case — himself, Jeff Storms and Kathryn Bennett, his daughter — while four or five other attorneys did some work. His rate was $650 an hour; other lawyers’ rates were lower.

He said that the city did not pay all the charges that his firm submitted and that the final amount was negotiated.

In an e-mail on Friday, Mayor R.T. Rybak called the death “a tragic event that led to a complicated, protracted legal situation.

“We made a difficult decision, not to incur even more costly legal fees,” he wrote, “which would only continue to mount. My heart goes out to the victim’s family. I also stand strongly with good police officers who were protecting innocent people who were at risk.”

 

Staff writer Maya Rao contributed to this article. Randy Furst • 612-673-4224

  • Minneapolis payouts

    Payouts for allegations of police misconduct:

    Year Amount

    2006 $667,958

    2007 $5,744,250

    2008 $231,499

    2009 $1,534,523

    2010 $794,251

    2011 $4,240,284

    2012 $814,093

    Total $14,026,858

    Largest payouts:

    • $4.5 million in 2007 to Duy Ngo, a Minneapolis police officer mistakenly shot in 2003 by another officer.

    • $3.075 million in 2013 to family of David Smith, who died after a struggle at the downtown YMCA in 2010.

    • $2.19 million in 2011 to family of Dominic Felder, shot to death in 2006 by police.

    Source: Minneapolis city attorney’s office

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