Officials summoned in suit over Minneapolis police shooting

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Wednesday May 8, 2019 ( RBB NEWS) – A federal judge summoned Minneapolis city leaders to court on Wednesday after learning that the city had rejected an offer to settle a lawsuit over the killing of a black man by police in 2015 — with the rejection coming the same day the city announced it had agreed to pay $20 million to the family of a white woman killed by police.

U.S. District Judge Michael Davis said he got an email saying that the City Council rejected an offer to settle the case over the death of Jamar Clark on Friday — the same day the city made public that it agreed to pay $20 million to settle a lawsuit over the 2017 death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond.

“The court wants a full understanding of where we are, where we’re going in this matter,” Davis said.

The two deaths unfolded under different circumstances.

Damond, who was white, was shot by a police officer when she approached his squad car minutes after calling 911 to report a possible rape in the alley behind her home. That officer was convicted of murder.

The civil suit at issue now involves the 24-year-old Clark, who was shot in the head after a struggle with two officers. The county attorney declined to charge the officers, saying an investigation found Clark was shot after trying to get an officer’s gun.

William Starr, an attorney for Clark’s father, James Clark, said in court that the settlement offer in his case was “nominal.” He said he now wants a “transformative settlement” — echoing language used to describe the Damond settlement — and the case could go to trial.

Davis’ order called Mayor Jacob Frey, City Council President Lisa Bender, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo and City Attorney Susan Segal to court for the status conference.

Frey last week cited the murder conviction for former Officer Mohamed Noor, along with Noor’s failure to identify a threat before using deadly force, as reasons for the large payout to Damond’s family.