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St. Paul settlement is likely

  • Article by: KEVIN DUCHSCHERE
  • Star Tribune
  • January 7, 2013 - 9:16 PM

The St. Paul City Council on Wednesday is expected to approve Wednesday a $30,000 settlement of a federal lawsuit in which a man said he was assaulted in jail by an off-duty police officer.

Under the terms of the settlement, neither the city nor two other officers admit any liability in the case involving Luke Prescott, now 32, and the incident at the Ramsey County jail in November 2008.

However, the former officer who was charged with assault in the case and later acquitted, Scott Wendell, is not included among the parties covered by the settlement agreement and isn't entitled to the same indemnification against claims.

The complaint said that Wendell went to the jail after learning that his juvenile stepdaughter had been with Prescott when he was arrested on an outstanding warrant, and slammed Prescott's head into a wall.

The case went to court, where a judge acquitted Wendell in May 2010 on lack of evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that he intended to assault Prescott.

Wendell resigned from the St. Paul police force in November 2010, after 11 years with the department. No disciplinary action was taken against him while he was an officer, spokesman Howie Padilla said.

The officers listed in the agreement allegedly permitted Wendell to enter Prescott's cell, St. Paul City Attorney Sara Grewing said.

The settlement, she said, was "a good way to manage taxpayer risk."

St. Paul has agreed to a couple of large settlements involving police officers in recent months.

In October, the City Council approved a $385,000 settlement with former police officer Anne Rasmusson, who accused more than 140 metro-area officers -- including 61 from St. Paul -- of looking at her driver's file without an official purpose.

Rasmusson collected more than $1 million in all in settlements with various jurisdictions, including $392,500 from Minneapolis.

In November, the City Council approved a $400,000 settlement, tied for the largest police-brutality settlement ever paid by the city. In that case, a mother and son filed a federal lawsuit alleging that police beat them during a search of their apartment for cocaine. No cocaine was found.

Kevin Duchschere • 651-925-5035

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