The St. Paul police are tasked with taking a bite out of crime, but a bite by one of their K9 units will take $65,000 out of the city budget.
The Saint Paul city council is expected to approve a $65,000 settlement on Wednesday to Kongmeng Kue, a resident who was wrongfully bitten by a K9 dog during a search.
According to the incident report, police responded to a call about a drunk Asian male in the Payne-Phalen area on the night of May 3, 2012. While the police scanned the area, an unrelated African American male fled the area after dropping a handgun. Police halted their search for the drunk man and attempted to track down the suspect who dropped the gun. A K9 unit joined the search and soon picked up the scent of the inebriated man. Kue, rattled by the shouts of police to reveal himself, hid behind a trashcan. The K9 unit approached the hidden man and bit him on the cheek and neck.
The police report states that the officers “quickly determined that this was not our suspect that had dumped the firearm” and they listed the incident as an “accidental bite.”
A subsequent blood-alcohol test revealed that Kue was walking around with a BAC of 0.185, more than double the legal limit for driving, but he was never charged with a crime.
City attorney Sara Grewing said it’s tough to place the blame on the police officers, saying “there may not have been anything [they] would have done differently,” but the city agreed to the settlement because Kue was injured by a police dog and had a good chance of winning at trial.
“The city is dealing with some case law and statutes that impose strict liability for (K-9) dog bites,” said Grewing, noting that Kue had “pretty significant injuries to his face.”
As part of the settlement, Kue will receive $32,000 as compensation and $13,275 for his medical expenses. The remaining $19,725 will cover his legal expenses.
The $65,000 payout brings the city’s annual legal settlement total to $2.3 million.
Paul Edlund comments
This seems like a fair ruling. Kue was not committing a crime when he was bitten by the dog, and although he likely would have been found at least partially liable for the incident, the majority of the liability falls on the police and the K9 unit.
In the end, a citizen is being compensated for injuries he suffered at the hands of the city and its employees. It was an unfortunate situation, but Kue deserved to be compensated for his injuries.
Related source: TwinCities.com
Farmington is the latest Minnesota city to equip their officers with body cameras, and the first three weeks of the program have been a success, said Farmington PD police sergeant Gary Rutherford.
“These days, society is video-driven,” Rutherford said. “This technology is small enough and affordable enough, there was no reason not to go with it now. And it’s such a great evidence collection tool, I can’t imagine life without one now that I have it.”
Assault Victim Aid
While I’ve touched on the pros and cons of police body cameras in the past, Rutherford went into detail about another benefit of body cameras that I hadn’t thought about before. Rutherford said he expects the cameras will be extremely beneficial in situations of domestic abuse.
Rutherford said it’s not uncommon for victims of domestic violence to recant or alter their testimony a few days after the incident. By recording interactions either at the home or in the immediate aftermath of the incident, police will be able to capture a truer picture of what transpired. Sometimes victims want to protect their abuser for fear of change or retribution, but these recordings will act as tangible evidence for prosecutors and officers to point to and say, ‘This person is in danger and measures need to be taken against his/her abuser.’
Also, victims of domestic abuse sometimes attempt to minimize or justify the actions of their abuser, and as long as they camera footage is not too traumatic, officers can show the victim the recording to help show them that they are in danger and that these actions are not normal. These recordings will also be available to judges and juries to aid in rulings.
I know we’ve kind of been beating these police body camera stories into the ground of late, but I think the trend is only going to continue in the future. More departments are budgeting for body cameras, and statewide funding could become available if the Minneapolis pilot program is successful. I’ll certainly keep an eye on these stories in the coming weeks and months.
Related source: Pioneer Press