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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Police shooting case achieved pre-litigation goals

The $4.5 million settlement that the city of Minneapolis agreed to pay Duy Ngo to compensate him for the injuries he received at the hands of a fellow police officer while working undercover comes after the city reviewed and changed its procedures regarding critical incidents, according to Ngo's attorney, Robert Bennett (photo on right). The changes were not part of the settlement, but happened at the department after the incident, allowing Ngo to feel he had done some good, Bennett said. “[Police Chief Tim] Dolan walked the walk, and we achieved some pre-litigation goals, he added.

The city also instituted training involving plain clothes police officers, which will benefit the many agencies who have officers working undercover, said Bennett.

The settlement is the largest civil rights payment involving a Minnesota police department in the state’s history, and the largest in Minneapolis by a factor of four, according to Bennett. Bennett is Minnesota’s go-to guy on police civil rights cases, having handled about 100 over his career. There are only about five reported cases in the federal system involving police on police shootings, and none other than this in the 8th Circuit, he said.

“The city council stepped up and did the right thing,” Bennett said. “It took an act of political courage.” The city was aided in its decision by a real-time animation of the shooting and some deposition testimony on disks, which allowed it to see what the jury would see, Bennett added. The city also reviewed voluminous medical documents of the injuries Ngo sustained when he was shot six times after radioing for help while working undercover.

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