The city of Brooklyn Park has agreed to pay $2.85 million to settle a police brutality lawsuit filed by a 23-year-old Minneapolis man who was gravely wounded when he was shot three times in the back by a probationary officer.
The settlement, the largest in the city’s history and among the largest in similar suits statewide, was reached Wednesday.
Officer Jason Chadbourne, who had been on the force for nine months when he shot Shoua Yang on Jan. 25, 2014, is on paid administrative leave pending an employment hearing.
“The settlement represents some level of justice,” said Robert Bennett, the attorney who represented Yang. “The system actually does work.”
Attorney Jason Hiveley, who represented the city, said in a statement that the city and its insurer “determined that [the] settlement would avoid exposing the city to a potentially large jury verdict and substantial attorneys’ fees and costs.”
The city declined to comment further on the allegations contained in the lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit, on that snowy January evening, Yang, then 22, attended a party at a Brooklyn Park banquet hall with his cousin and a friend. A few hours later, a fight broke out, and the cousin was subsequently punched in the eye. The three men decided to go home and were heading to their car to leave.
Around the same time, Chadbourne, a 23-year-old probationary officer at the time, and his partner arrived at the scene. Chadbourne had turned off the squad-car camera and body microphone, the lawsuit said.
Chadbourne followed the men to “determine if they were responsible for the alleged assault,” the lawsuit said. He “never issued any command directly to Yang” and “was in possession of no information that the driver … had committed a crime,” the lawsuit said.
Chadbourne stood behind the car as Yang backed it out of its parking spot, the suit said, and Yang was unaware that Chadbourne was near the vehicle.
“Chadbourne could not see into the [car] because it was covered in snow,” the lawsuit said. “Despite having no idea who or what he was shooting at, Chadbourne fired six gunshots into the [car].”
Yang was hit three times — in the back, neck and shoulder.
Moments later, Chadbourne turned on his squad-car camera and body microphone. When later asked about the missing four minutes of videotape, Chadbourne said the “equipment was not working properly.” That statement was shown to be false, according to the lawsuit.
Yang was rushed to a hospital and underwent emergency surgery for “severe, life-threatening and permanent” injuries, according to the lawsuit. His left kidney was removed.
Later, Yang was charged in Hennepin County District Court with first- and second-degree assault in connection with the incident.
According to the criminal complaint against him, Yang was “speeding in reverse in a car aimed at the officer who opened fire” and Chadbourne fired several shots at the car because he “was in a position where he was in danger of being pinned between the defendant’s vehicle and the row of vehicles behind him.”
But according to the lawsuit, Chadbourne was never in danger of being hit by the car, which rolled into an adjacent vehicle only after Yang was shot.
No weapons or drugs were found on Yang or his companions.
During Yang’s criminal trial, Chadbourne lied to the judge about discussing the case with his partner before the testimony, the lawsuit claimed.
Yang was acquitted by a Hennepin County District Court jury of both assault charges this January. He then sued Chadbourne.
“There’s no amount of money that would make it worth being shot by a police service weapon,” Bennett said. “It’s a very serious thing, and even more serious is the injustice that was done to him by charging him with crimes he didn’t commit.”