Justine’s family filed a civil lawsuit against former Minneapolis Police Officer Mohamed Noor, Minneapolis Police Officer Matthew Harrity, the Minneapolis Police Chief and the City of Minneapolis in federal court here this past July. On Thursday evening the city settled the case for $20 million, $2 million of which the family will donate to a Minneapolis Foundation fund to “fight gun violence in the city,” as the Star Tribune puts it in its article on the settlement. The MPR story is here.
The family retained Robert Bennett to bring the civil lawsuit. Bob is Minnesota’s go-to attorney in police misconduct and excessive force cases. When I spoke with Bob after he filed the lawsuit this past July for “Notes on the Damond Complaint,” he told me the use of deadly force in this case was “the worst [he’s] seen” since he took his first such a case in 1980. He paused to do the arithmetic for me: “That’s 38 years.” That remains true now that it’s 39 years.
As one might have anticipated from Bob’s evaluation of the case, the settlement sets a new city record for the settlement of such cases. It is over four times as large as the city’s previous record ($4.5 million). Bob also represented the plaintiff in that case.
Minneapolis’s race hustlers are having another field day with the settlement. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey could not bring himself to contradict them or say that the size of the settlement reflected the egregious facts of the case. He could not bring himself to deny that race and “institutionalized racism” in the police department had anything to do with it. At his press conference after the guilty verdict Frey yammered on about “historical and ongoing racialized trauma.”
Mayor Frey would only allow that the circumstances of this case were “unique.” He asserted that he could not say whether this was the “worst [case]” or not. If that is true, however, it is true only in a political sense. See Bob Bennett’s July 2018 evaluation of the case quoted above.
The civil case had been stayed on the motion of the city while the criminal case against Noor was pending. It was settled at a previously scheduled mediation. Now that the case has been settled when the stay might have been lifted — I don’t know whether it would have continued pending appeal — I think one can reasonably infer the city did not want Bob to conduct discovery in this case. At his own press conference following the settlement, Bob alluded to the policies that had allowed Noor to make it onto the force in the first place.
It occurred to me during the Noor’s trial that the price the city would pay in the civil case regardless of the outcome in the criminal case represented an especially appropriate form of justice. The city’s taxpayers should rightly pay the piper for putting former Mayor Betsy Hodges and her handpicked police chief in positions of authority. That is one way of looking at the resolution of the civil case.