Both Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and plaintiff’s attorney Bob Bennett held press conferences on Friday following the announcement of the city’s record-breaking $20 million settlement of the civil lawsuit brought by Justine’s family. Bennett represents the family in the civil lawsuit. Having listened to both press conferences on YouTube, I wrote about the settlement yesterday morning in “Minneapolis pays up.” In that post, by the way, I linked to the Star Tribune story including highlights of Frey’s press conference and to the YouTube video of Bennett’s press conference. Frey’s press conference is also available in its entirety on YouTube.
Press coverage of the settlement is as pitiful as the performance of the press at the respective press conferences. To take one example, Bennett observed in response to a question about the impact of the case on the Minneapolis Police Department: “They’ve tightened up the testing for officer suitability at the front end, which was very, very poor in this situation.” You’d think that might have prompted a follow-up question, but you’d be mistaken.
In my post I drew the inference that the city’s settlement at this time was prompted by the imminent undoing of the stay that had been in effect on the civil lawsuit and by the discovery that would follow. Wanting to make sure that I wasn’t off-base, I wrote Bennett yesterday:
I covered the Noor trial right behind your assigned seat and right behind Justine’s family. I wonder if you can tell me whether the stay would have been lifted following the guilty verdict or would have continued through an appeal. I also wonder whether you think the prospect of discovery in addition to the guilty verdict affected the settlement.
Congratulations on the settlement. I am disgusted that the powers that be in the city cannot bring themselves to say that race didn’t have a goddamn thing to do with the settlement. You may recall you told me last July right after you filed the complaint that it was the most egregious excessive force case you’d seen in 38 (now 39) years, but they won’t say it.
Late yesterday afternoon Bob responded to my questions. In his message he alludes to the New York Times story by Adeel Hassan on the settlement:
The USMJ [i.e., United States Magistrate Judge Tony Leung, who had granted the stay in the civil lawsuit] was already considering whether to lift the stay earlier than planned originally, probably because Noor testified.
Our discovery would have been broader, deeper and more painful than the prosecutor. I would judge that had an impact.
Evidence and lots of it, not race, was the determining factor. Can’t explain that to the New York Times who asked [“civil rights lawyer and activist in Minneapolis,” according to the Times] Nekima Levy now Armstrong instead of me.
In the Times article, Levy Armstong peddles the racial line on the city’s settlement. She fancies herself a “renowned” figure, but she is just another hustler.
I wanted to correct my post if I had drawn inferences in error, but I conclude from Bob’s message that I was right about the factors underlying the size and timing of the settlement.