Since Floyd, Minneapolis has spent nearly $26M in workers’ comp settlements for officers claiming PTSD
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – According to a report from FOX 9, since the death of George Floyd and the riots that followed, hundreds of Minneapolis police officers have left the force, and are stating that they are now suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in an effort to seek disability benefits.
This week: Another $1.765 million in workers compensation settlements for 11 Minneapolis police officers. Passed out of committee this morning. Final approval on Thursday.https://t.co/kFGwKGovHs https://t.co/0xUTiV5gIV
— Wedge LIVE!™ (@WedgeLIVE) February 22, 2022
After analyzing city council minutes and police records, FOX 9 investigators found 155 officers have received workers compensation settlements totaling nearly $26 million, with many of those same officers having questionable histories of misconduct while on the force.
In one example, surveillance video obtained by FOX 9 shows an incident involving now-former Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) Sgt. Joseph Will and two newly hired officers trying to restrain a DWI suspect who was in custody after becoming agitated and hitting his head against the wall.
The two officers allegedly placed the man into a “hogtie” with his hands and ankles bound and tied behind his back. This technique is reportedly against MPD policy. Will was the supervisor on scene and the video reveals that he did not stop the officers from the unapproved move.
Internal affairs investigators noted in the disciplinary records that Will seemed “disinterested” with his arms crossed as he looked up toward the ceiling before walking away.
The sergeant was disciplined and suspended for 20 hours without pay. He is also one of the now-former MPD officers who have walked away with a workers’ compensation settlement totaling $160,000.
Nobody is questioning whether bad cops should be prosecuted. I would have prosecuted Derek Chauvin.
Minnesotans aren’t upset because of Chauvin’s prosecution. They are upset because of Ellison’s efforts to defund the police.
— Jim Schultz for Attorney General (@JimForMN) October 14, 2022
After analyzing the city council minutes and police disciplinary records, FOX 9 identified 155 now-former MPD officers who have had such settlements approved. Nearly $25.9 million in settlements have been approved with an average payout of $167,000 per officer.
Attorney Ron Meuser and his firm, which specializes in PTSD, have shepherded more than 85 percent of the settlement cases analyzed by FOX 9.
Although Meuser declined to comment about the data FOX 9 uncovered, he previously spoke publicly about police officers he represents who he states have encountered life-changing trauma during the civil unrest. He added:
“If theses individuals have symptoms legitimately consistent with PTSD, it is not safe, in my opinion, to have them be out on the street.”
“I can tell you that [the officers] came from all sorts of angles and were at different locations throughout the civil unrest over that time period. A great deal of them were actually physically inside the third precinct the day that it was abandoned by the City of Minneapolis.”
Amid this surge in officers claiming PTSD, some have voiced their concerns and have been critical of the sheer amount of officers getting settlements. Dave Bicking who is a board member of the watchdog group Communities Against Police Brutality, said:
“While yes that was a traumatic event for some police officers, the amount of PTSD from that seems really excessive.”
The FOX 9 analysis found that of the 155 MPD officers, at least 95 percent of them had some form of misconduct claim filed against them and about 12 percent of them were disciplined by MPD supervisors. Bicking said:
“We do see that many of those officers have a long history of complaints against them and even of lawsuit settlements. There is much less history of discipline because there’s very little history of discipline within the Minneapolis Police Department to begin with.”
In one example, former officer Dustin Dupre was charged with slashing a woman’s tire outside a Target back in 2017 in an apparent “road rage” incident. He kept his job and in 2021 left the department with a $175,000 payout.
Post-traumatic stress disorder claims by Minneapolis police are putting pressure on the city’s self-insurance fund and driving workers’ compensation claims to the highest number in at least a decade. https://t.co/1uxwlS2FOR
— MPR News (@MPRnews) October 7, 2021
Per Minnesota law, in order to claim PTSD, an officer must be evaluated by a city-appointed psychologist. An officer and their attorney can also bring in one or two of their own doctors to make an opposing case, which can make the process lengthy and convoluted.
For the city of Minneapolis, agreeing to a settlement can often come down to what is cheaper, giving a payout or the cost of fighting it in court. Previously, during a city council meeting, Director of Risk Management and Claims Emily Colby said:
“The goal of settlement is always to save money for the city in the long run, so the hope is even if we’re paying more money upfront, we won’t be paying more over time.”
It is important to note that an officer’s disciplinary record does not factor into whether their PTSD claim is approved or not.
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