Settlement talks resume between City of Minneapolis, Jamar Clark's parents in civil rights case

May 08, 2019 10:19 PM

Another lawsuit involving the city of Minneapolis and the family of man who died at the hands of a police officer, is under scrutiny. 

On Tuesday, a federal Judge ordered city leaders to reconvene with the parents of Jamar Clark in a closed-door meeting. Clark was 24-years-old when he was shot and killed by a police officer in 2015. The officer claimed Clark was reaching for his gun during a struggle in north Minneapolis. 

However, Clark's parents claim he was the victim of excessive force. They filed a wrongful death claim with the city and a civil rights lawsuit in federal court in 2017. Two years have passed without resolution. 

"It seems like they're trying to kick our case under the rug," James Clark, Jamar's father, said.

RELATED: Minneapolis agrees to mediation in suit over Jamar Clark shooting

When the judge learned city leaders rejected a settlement offer by Clark's attorney on the same day they announced a historic deal with relatives of 40-year-old Justine Ruzszyk Damond, the judge ordered both sides to meet in a closed-door mediation session at the federal courthouse in Minneapolis. 

"It's totally baffling why the City Council didn't accept our settlement offer," said Bill Starr, Clark's attorney. 

Starr described the offer as nowhere near the amount of the Damond settlement, which was reached in record time and in the historic sum of $20 million. City leaders declined to say why it took the Clarks' offer off the table. Clark's father suspects there is a racial double standard in the justice system. 

"They're just making it worse for black people because it was a racist thing, ya know," said Clark.

The city's own records disclosed it has paid out many times in officer misconduct cases before. Since 2006, 170 claims have been resolved totaling nearly $20 million. They are taxpayer dollars.  

RELATED: Jamar Clark's parents say shooting 'should've never happened'

Damond's settlement nearly empties out the city's self-insurance fund, which is at $27 million for this year. That leaves $7 million for other claims like workers comp, vehicle crashes, and lawsuits like Clark's with several others still pending. 

With that reserve fund drying up and it being only May, staff at the finance office said they intend to work with the Mayor and City Council members to come up with ways to replenish it.  

As for the Clark case, there is more to come. A trial is set for July, but if a deal is reached before then, or the case thrown out, then a trial would be avoided. 

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Beth McDonough

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