The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio Foundation today announced a global damage settlement in damage actions pending in Cincinnati related to its landmark police reform agreement, In re Cincinnati Policing.
Plaintiffs in sixteen lawsuits alleging race-based policing and excessive force agreed to settle with the city in a global settlement fund for $4.5 million. The cases were voluntarily put on hold while the ACLU negotiated a sweeping first of its kind police reform agreement with the city, the FOP, and a companion agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice.
The cases include two that have roiled the racial and political climate in Cincinnati. Michael Carpenter was killed by Cincinnati police in 1999. Shortly after the ACLU filed the police reform case, Timothy Thomas was killed in 2001, setting off several days of unrest.
Frequent protests have called for the city to settle these two cases involving unarmed African-American men.
“This settlement makes an important statement,” said ACLU General Counsel Scott Greenwood, who negotiated the settlement fund for the plaintiffs, along with co-counsel Alphonse Gerhardstein and Kenneth Lawson. “Police misconduct is wrong, and Cincinnati is taking seriously the challenges of respecting the civil rights of African-Americans, reforming its police department, and improving police/community relations.”
Kenneth Lawson, also representing the plaintiffs, agreed. “Finally, the victims, grieving families and the African-American Community as a whole can have closure. I believe the Families and every single plaintiff made the right decision and each settled knowing their lives and what occurred to them has value.”
The ACLU has brought race-biased policing, or racial profiling, cases in over twenty cases around the country. Christine Link, the ACLU of Ohio’s Executive Director, remarked, “This is by far the largest settlement in a set of pure race-based policing cases. It is a remarkable achievement and a huge credit to the community.”