The city of Minneapolis is poised to pay $70,800 to a bicyclist who said he sustained minor injuries and had his rights violated when he was arrested in an altercation during a Critical Mass ride in 2007.

Part of the award will cover $35,000 in legal fees that Gus Ganley ran up to win an acquittal on all three charges brought against him after his arrest during the event, in which hundreds of bikers filled Minneapolis streets.

Ganley also incurred undisclosed legal costs in a civil lawsuit against the city and six members of the Police Department. In the suit, he alleged violation of his federal civil rights and wrongful actions by the city in his arrest.

The proposed settlement has been recommended by a City Council committee for approval by the full council on Friday.

"It's pretty good to hold the police accountable for their actions, which is pretty much what this whole process has been," the 22-year-old Ganley said Monday.

Only one to fight charges

The freelance videographer, who participates in Critical Mass rides occasionally, said he believes police were trying to target some activists in the crowd who were organizing protests for the Republican National Convention a year later.

Critical Mass events are periodic rush-hour rides that can attract hundreds of cyclists who sometimes block traffic. The August 2007 ride resulted in confrontations between some riders and police, resulting in 19 arrests. But only four, including Ganley, were charged.

Two pleaded guilty to reduced charges, and charges were dropped against a juvenile, according to Ganley's attorney, Jordan Kushner.

Only Ganley fought his charges. In a weeklong trial, he was acquitted of assaulting a police officer, obstruction of the legal process with force and fleeing a police officer.

Before the settlement was reached in the lawsuit, U.S. District Judge Richard Kyle dismissed a number of the claims that Kushner had brought on Ganley's behalf but said he would allow several other allegations to go to trial. Among those were Ganley's contention that police violated his due-process rights by making false allegations of criminal conduct, that police retaliated against him for exercising his First Amendment rights and that he was maliciously prosecuted on the basis of false police evidence.

Ganley said he had slight injuries to his face, back and head.

Dispute about who did what

According to Assistant City Attorney Tim Skarda, "There was a real dispute about what happened and who did what. ... There was a prospect that the case could have been lost." He said that dispute, the likelihood that the case would largely be a replay of the criminal case and Ganley's legal costs played a role in the decision to settle.

"You hope they get the message to respect people's rights," Kushner said. "You would hope they get the message to change their behavior."

According to a presettlement order by Kyle, the altercation arose from police attempts to arrest two Critical Mass riders, which prompted many in a crowd estimated at several hundred, including Ganley, to begin chanting to let them go. Ganley said he didn't physically interfere but was shoved and maced by officer Richard Lilliard.

Ganley said that officer Craig Ronald Williams and another officer tackled him, and that Williams punched him several times, slamming him into a police van.

Williams testified that he tried to intervene to pull Ganley from Lilliard and that Ganley struck him and tried to flee, which Ganley denied.

Steve Brandt • 612-673-4438