The city of Minneapolis has agreed to pay $25,000 in a civil settlement to a former Patrick Henry High School student who was put into a chokehold by a Minneapolis police officer until he reportedly lost consciousness, — and $115,000 to his lawyers, city officials revealed this week.
Officials said that the city has agreed to pay Dontae Thomas in connection with the 2012 incident, in which officer Tyrone Barze Jr. used a “neck restraint” to control the then-18-year-old senior during a lunchroom disturbance. The city is also expected to pay $115,000 in attorneys’ fees to the Minneapolis law firm of Gaskins Bennett Birrell Schupp.
Thomas claimed he lost consciousness during the altercation after the officer “used excessive force by using the neck restraint,” according to his civil suit, and a medical exam found evidence of “injuries consistent with strangulation.”
Barze has maintained that he only applied the neck restraint after Thomas became combative.
Lt. Bob Kroll, of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, which represents the city’s rank-and-file officers, said he wasn’t familiar with the case, but added that “there is something terribly wrong with our system when the plaintiff gets $25,000 and his attorneys get $115,000,”
He continued: “It’s clear that our system is broken. I believe the city should have fought based on that alone.”
The settlement must still be approved by the Ways and Means Committee and the full council. That vote, however, is usually considered a formality.
Barze was involved in another high-profile incident, when he was accused of using excessive force when arresting a canvasser and then threatened to shoot witnesses to the incident.