Since 2010, the St. Louis Police have quietly settled dozens of lawsuits, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The newspaper said it filed a public records request with the Missouri Attorney General’s Office to obtain the information, which was not previously made public.
A review of the records revealed the 44 largest settlements totaled $4.7 million, according to the Post-Dispatch. The cases included allegations of wrongful imprisonment and injuries from excessive force.
At the same time, many of the cases were not examined for potential criminal charges, the Post-Dispatch found.
Jon Loevy, a spokesman for a law firm that won a $2.5 million settlement from police, told the Post-Dispatch that spending large sums to settle is an indication that a review for a potential crime is warranted.
“In my considerable experience, police departments do not settle and certainly don’t settle for a lot of money unless there is clear evidence of liability, clear evidence the shooting was unjustified. Anything short of that and they decline to settle,” he added.
Susan C. Ryan, a spokeswoman for Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, told the newspaper that the prosecutor was concerned about being bypassed for criminal case consideration in the police department’s settlement process.
“This is why Ms. Joyce thinks the new officer-involved shooting protocol is a significant improvement from the way these cases have been handled in the past,” Ryan told the Post-Dispatch.
Ryan said the Circuit Attorney’s office lacks the “manpower” to go back and review certain cases for potential crimes, but would reconsider if the city provides the funding.
SOURCE: St. Louis Post-Dispatch | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty