UPDATE: Minneapolis police union president Lt. Bob Kroll described Barze as an "excellent" officer, having supervised him when Barze first joined the force seven years ago.
"When you're a hardworking cop, these are the kinds of situations you get in," Kroll said by phone Tuesday evening. "And just because you get sued doesn't mean you did anything wrong."
Kroll said that he felt the city was too quick to settle cases against officers.
"In the...end, they send the message that they've got deep pockets" and are willing to settle, Kroll said.
ORIGINAL POST: The Minneapolis City Council's Ways and Means committee has awarded $38,000 to a Maple Grove woman who accused a city cop of using excessive force when he punched her, knocking her unconscious, as she tried to record him arresting several of her friends.
The committee on Monday also approved a $44,000 award for the law firm representing Madelyn Milton. Milton contended in a federal civil lawsuit filed earlier this year that her civil rights were violated when Officer Tyrone Barze Jr. punched her during an arrest last June. The blow knocked Milton to the ground and caused her to lose consciousness, the suit alleges.
Although the decision requires the City Council's approval next week, their sign-off is considered a formality.
An MPD spokesman on Tuesday said he was unable to comment on the decision, citing a department policy on personnel issues, and police union officials weren't immediately available for comment.
The city initially offered a settlement of $35,000, which was rejected by Milton's attorneys, from the Minneapolis firm Gaskins, Bennett, Birrell, and Schupp, LLP.
According to the lawsuit, Milton, then a 23-year-old second-year doctoral student, and a group of friends were returning by taxi from a night out when they started arguing with the cabdriver over a fare. Barze, who responded to the scene after the drive called police, allegedly arrested two of Milton's friends after they pulled out their cell phones and started recording the encounter.
Milton claims in the suit that Barze confiscated her phone after she too started recording him and when she “took a step or two after Barze” to get it back, he turned and punched her in the face, “knocking her to the ground, where she struck the back of her head and she lay unconscious and bleeding in the street.”
At the time, then-union boss John Delmonico defended the officer's use of force in the case, saying that "everybody wants to jump to conclusions that the cop did something bad."
A seven-year veteran of the force, Barze has been named in at least four pending or past suits, including one in which he’s accused of "unreasonably" pepper spraying the general manager of a popular Uptown bar – a case later settled out of court for $34,000.
He has also been accused of using a “neck restraint” to control a combative high school student, causing the teenager to lose consciousness, and of applying excessive force when arresting an outreach worker outside a north Minneapolis grocery store and then threatening to shoot witnesses to the incident.