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St. Paul prepares to settle police brutality case for $400,000

  • Article by: ROCHELLE OLSON
  • Star Tribune
  • November 7, 2012 - 12:54 AM

The St. Paul City Council is expected to settle a police brutality case with a mother and her son on Wednesday for $400,000, an amount tied for the largest brutality settlement ever paid by the city.

Under the four-page settlement agreement, the city denied wrongdoing while Daniela Hobbs, 48, and Larelle Steward, 28, agreed not to discuss the settlement with the media.

Hobbs and Steward sued the city in U.S. District Court over an incident on Oct. 28, 2010, at their apartment on the 600 block of Snelling Avenue N.

Hobbs, Steward, their attorney Robert Gardner and City Attorney Sara Grewing's office have already signed the settlement.

The amount of the settlement is the same as that paid by the city to the family of Charles Craighead, who was mistakenly shot and killed by police as he tried to protect his fiancée from a carjacker in 2001.

In the current case, officer Matthew Yunker and two other officers went to the Hobbs-Steward home with a search warrant to look for cocaine and evidence of dealing, according to the lawsuit.

After Steward let them into the apartment, police ordered the mother and son to the ground.

Steward's wrists were zip-tied behind his back, but Hobbs -- who is 5 feet 3 and has diabetes and back problems -- struggled to get to the ground.

As Steward tried to explain his mother's physical problems, officers kicked him in the head and caused his face to smash the floor, breaking his nose and cutting his face.

The officers then threw a "flash-bang" grenade at Hobbs, causing her to catch fire and suffer third-degree burns on her thighs and the bottoms of her feet, the complaint said.

The two, who are black, alleged violations of their civil rights.

The police found no cocaine in the search.

The city paid $270,000 to Robert Kearney in 2004 after he said two officers pushed him down a flight of stairs and ignored his request for medical attention.

The city also paid that amount in 2011 to Cosetta Morris, who required more than 300 stitches after she said a police officer threw her through a glass door and then falsely claimed she caused her own injuries by tripping.

Rochelle Olson • 651-925-5035 Twitter: @rochelleolson

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