The St. Paul City Council on Wednesday approved a $50,000 settlement with a 42-year-old man who had accused police of excessive force during a July 12, 2011, arrest.
Christopher Nathan Conner was riding a bike early that morning when Sgt. Andrew Shanley and officer Joshua Moore — alerted to thefts from cars parked near Sweeney’s Saloon, 96 Dale St. N. — saw him in the area, got suspicious and ordered him to stop.
Conner refused with an expletive, and Shanley ultimately deployed a Taser in his direction from a squad car window. The officers then kicked Conner and hit him with a flashlight while he was on the ground, according to court testimony.
In the settlement agreement, the city did not admit liability, but last year, the officers’ actions led a Ramsey County District Court judge to throw out a drug possession charge resulting from the discovery of suspected methamphetamine in Conner’s backpack.
Judge Rosanne Nathanson ruled that the officers did not have sufficient reason to stop Conner and that kicking him and striking him after he went to the ground was “out of proportion” with the threat he posed. The evidence, as such, was obtained illegally, she wrote, and inadmissible in court.
Earlier this year, Conner sued the city and the officers in U.S. District Court.
Wednesday’s settlement closes out the case.
One question that was disputed at the state court level was whether Conner had been disabled temporarily by the Taser.
He said that he had been struck and could not feel his legs. Shanley said he did not know if he hit Conner.
Both officers testified that a brief foot chase ensued. Conner said there had been no chase, and that he was struggling to get off the ground.
He was kicked and struck with the flashlight after allegedly disobeying commands to “show his hands,” the judge wrote.
While Conner avoided prosecution for suspected drug possession, he did get sent to prison for about four months in March for a probation violation stemming from a 2007 drug offense. That sentence came about after he failed to appear for five scheduled drug tests. Conner now is on supervised release, state records show.
The settlement is the fourth this year involving claims of unnecessary force or mistreatment by St. Paul police. The total amount of payments, including Wednesday’s agreement, is $410,950.