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Mpls. reaches $77K settlement with man strip-searched in traffic stop

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The city of Minneapolis has agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by a man who was illegally strip-searched by police officers.

Under the terms of the settlement, the city will pay Recardo Meeks $76,500. Meeks sued the city after a 2009 traffic stop when officers pulled his pants and underwear down in public and found marijuana hidden between his buttocks. 

An officer at the scene said he felt a bulge at the back of Meeks' jeans during a pat down and feared it was a gun. But a federal court judge ruled last month that the officers violated Meeks' civil rights by conducting an unconstitutional search. 

Police Chief Tim Dolan said the officers acted reasonably and says they will not be punished. Dolan said the officers did the right thing by conducting the search on the spot instead of taking Meeks to a more secluded spot. 

"We had an officer killed that took somebody to a bathroom for such a search — Melissa Schmidt — in our not-too-long-ago memory," Dolan said. "It's a dangerous situation."

The woman who killed officer Melissa Schmidt in 2002 reportedly concealed a hand gun between her buttocks. Schmidt managed to shoot and kill her attacker before she died.

Dolan said the officers and the residents of the neighborhood where the traffic stop occurred were familiar with Meeks. 

"He was known to the Little Earth Community. He was trespassing in that community. He was not a welcome person. He was known not to be a very good person," Dolan said.  

A few months after the incident, Meeks was sentenced to prison for a prior gun charge, and is serving time in a Moose Lake prison facility.

Meeks' attorney Andrew Mueller said he's glad the council approved the settlement and said he hopes his client will use the money wisely. 

 "For Mr. Meeks, I hope this settlement represents what will be a downpayment on a better future for him," Mueller said.