Council approves another $1.2 million in settlements for police assault victims

Protests on May 29 in Minneapolis
Protesters gather outside the 5th Precinct police station in Minneapolis on May 29.
Matt Sepic | MPR News 2020

The Minneapolis City Council on Thursday approved another $1.2 million in settlements for people assaulted by police during the protests and unrest that followed the police murder of George Floyd.

Freelance photographer Linda Tirado of Nashville will receive $600,000 for the loss of sight in her left eye after an officer fired a 40mm foam round at her while she was covering protests outside the 5th Precinct police station on May 29, 2020.

Tirado’s settlement is a quarter of what Soren Stevenson received for the loss of his left eye to the same type of blunt impact projectile.

Linda Tirado sues the city of Minneapolis
Linda Tirado, a freelance photographer, sued the city of Minneapolis, its police chief and state officials, after being hit by a foam bullet during protests on May 29, 2020.
Courtesy of Linda Tirado

The council also approved a $645,000 payment to Virgil Lee Jackson Jr., whom police beat and tased for two minutes, even after he surrendered.

Including the two settlements approved Thursday, the city has so far agreed to pay at least $5.4 million to resolve federal civil rights lawsuits from people injured by police in May of 2020.

According to Jackson’s lawsuit, a Minneapolis police officer repeatedly shocked him using the Taser’s “drive stun” mode, pressing the electrodes directly onto his skin in a use of the device that amounted to torture.

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Jackson was in a Lake Street parking lot with Jaleel Stallings when officers in an unmarked van fired foam rounds at them. Not realizing they were police, Stallings, a U.S. Army veteran who has no criminal record, shot toward the van with his pistol before surrendering. No officers were hurt.

Sgt. Andrew Bittell and officer Justin Stetson punched and kicked Stallings, who reached a $1.5 million settlement with the city last week after a Hennepin County jury acquitted him of attempted murder.

Neither Bittell nor Stetson appears on the city’s public list of MPD disciplinary decisions. The only officers listed as having been disciplined for actions following Floyd’s murder are Oscar Macias, who received a written reprimand for failing to complete a use of force report after striking two people with 40mm rounds on May 28, 2020. Key details in the discipline memo are redacted.

Then-chief Medaria Arradondo also gave Officer Colleen Ryan a written reprimand for speaking to a journalist about the department’s “toxic culture.”