Sunday, August 10, 2008

Alleged Police Misconduct Costing Cincinnati $500,000

According to the Enquirer, the City has agreed to settle a civil rights lawsuit against it brought by former Bengal Matthias Askew for $500,000. As you may remember, in 2006, Askew was tased by police following an encounter that began with a parking ticket. He was charged with resisting arrest (always charged after an officer uses force), obstructing official business, failing to comply with the order of a police officer, and disorderly conduct.

Initially represented by Ken Lawson (now serving an indefinite suspension from the practice of law), Askew was acquitted on all counts by Republican-endorsed Municipal Court Judge John Burlew (who narrowly lost his re-election bid to Dwane Mallory in 2007).

The Enquirer reports that the Citizen Complaint Authority found that the arresting officer used excessive force. (For CCA's summary, click here and scroll down to page seven. For what it's worth, it'd probably be difficult for the City to defend the suit, given the City's Manager's concurrence with CCA's finding of excessive force.) Apparently, the high-dollar settlement (excessive force claims are rarely worth this much in the absence of permanent injury) is because the City feared that a jury could have determined that Askew was released by the Bengals because of his arrest, and awarded him lost wages accordingly (which may have run well into the millions).

Congratulations to Lisa Meeks of Newman & Meeks for achieving this excellent result on behalf of her client. No word on whether Lawson had worked on the civil rights case prior to his suspension (which might entitle him to a share of the attorney's fees).

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