Case closed

MPR’s Brandt Williams reports today that give African American police officers in Minneapolis have cut a deal with the city in exchange for settling their lawsuit in exchange for $740,000. Their suit alleged that black officers suffered under a racially hostile environment in the department.

Settlements, for the rest of us, are problematic because everyone clams up, and the city admits to nothing. So does — or did — the department discriminate against African Americans? The attorney for one of the officers says the city has made advances in improving race relations. Without the benefit of a public airing of the grievances and an examination a trial provides, the rest of us won’t be able to judge the situation for ourselves. The city said it didn’t. The plaintiff said it did. Pick one.

We can, however, update the timeline of woes within the department we started when the suit was filed.

September 1992 – Officer Jerry Haaf killed by gang members, ending an effort by some in the department to work with known gang members Many officers reviled the group, United For Peace, and openly opposed police administrators who met with the group.

Mid-1994 – Deputy Chief Dave Dobrotka, who championed the gang alliance, and was criticized heavily after Haaf’s killing, leaves to take a job in Arizona.

February 1995 – Amid controversy over police misconduct and high crime, Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton appoints Robert Olson to replace retiring Police Chief John Laux.

1995 – Donald Banham, an African American, loses lawsuit against Chief Robert Olson, after the police union objected to attempts to promote him ahead of white officers who ranked higher. Banham loses his case.

July 1996 – Minnesota Department of Human Rights hears testimony on allegations that the Minneapolis Police Department discriminated against female employees. About 10 percent of the women on the force testify.

April 2002 – Mayor R.T. Rybak wants Chief Robert Olson out. Olson says, “I’m staying.”

August 2002 – During a drug raid, a police bullet intended for a pit bull, hits 11-year-old boy. A melee ensues.

December 2002Chief Robert Olson leaves.

February 2003 – Officer Duy Ngo, an undercover cop, was shot by another officers with a submachine gun. Ngo settled a suit with the city last week.

October 2003 – Federal officials investigate allegations that two Minneapolis police officers were involved in the assault of a suspect while serving a search warrant. Later, it’s leaked that the suspect was a police informant. The incident comes while the police department is in federally-mediated talks with community members, aimed at easing tensions between law enforcement and residents, especially minorities.

February 2004 – Two weeks after taking office and promising a hard-line against police misconduct, Chief William McManus suspends supervisors — including an internal candidate for the job he ultimately won — amid allegations one ordered the destruction of an internal memo in the Ngo case.

March 2004 – An outside investigation finds no wrongdoing on the supervisors’ part. They allege McManus is persecuting them.

October 2005 – Sgt. Giovanni Veliz files civil rights complaint against department after being reassigned to night patrol.

March 2006McManus quits. Takes job in San Antonio.

March 2006 – Tim Dolan seen as top contender for police chief.

November 2006 – Sgt. Charlie Adams was transfered after he contradicted statements made by his commanding officer, that a bicyclist who was killed over the summer was trying to buy drugs.

December 2007 – Five African American police officers file a racial discrimination lawsuit, alleging police chief Tim Dolan treated African American officers differently.

January 2008 – Sgt. Adams sues Dolan.

April 2009 – The city of Minneapolis settles a racial discrimination lawsuit with five African-American police officers for $740,000.

  • GregS

    Oops, you missed something, Bob.

    Remember the case in the early 1990’s when every black officer on the force received racist hate mail? The officer was identified and fired.

    The only problem was – she was a she not a he and she was black not white.

    I believe her name was Lisa clemens.

    She sued to get her job back and of course, she won. And of course, she was also awarded, or shall we say rewarded, with a settlement of something to the effect of $750,000. She then sued because she felt that she was harassed by the officers she insulted and won another large settlement.

    There certainly is a pattern here, not of discrimination but of a liberal establishment with deep pockets who will roll over and pay out whenever an attorney barks.