The city of Minneapolis will pay police officer Michael Griffin's legal bills after all. In an 8-4 vote Friday, the City Council agreed that Griffin should be reimbursed for $75,000 in attorney's fees tied to his federal civil rights trial last year. A jury acquitted Griffin of six of nine charges.
In one of her last acts as council president, Barb Johnson argued for paying his legal costs, pointing out that it "will be the last time that we'll be asked to reimburse for a criminal defense of our officers."
In the future, she said, officers will be able to tap a legal-defense fund in criminal matters. Cam Gordon, Lisa Bender, Elizabeth Glidden and Andrew Johnson voted against the measure, which passed without discussion.
Griffin was accused of violating the civil rights of four men in separate off-duty incidents — in May 2010 and November 2011 — and later lying about it. He was cleared of wrongdoing by Internal Affairs in the 2010 incident and received a letter of reprimand in the other case.
Griffin was found at least partly culpable in two federal lawsuits bought by the men involved in the incidents, resulting in $410,000 in settlements. The city made him personally immune from lawsuits both times.
A subcommittee last April rejected the reimbursement request on the recommendation of City Attorney Susan Segal. But council members later asked Segal and her office to take another look.
The Ways & Means Committee took up the matter this month and forwarded it to the full council without recommendation.