Update: The comments of Paul Reuvers, attorney for the City of Faribault and police officers and Faribault Police Chief Andy Bohlen have been added to this article.
A settlement has been reached in a Faribault man’s civil police brutality suit against the City of Faribault and several police officers.
Paul Scott Seeman filed the lawsuit in Minnesota Federal District Court in April, alleging more than 10 police officers deprived him of his constitutional right to record their actions and that they wrongly arrested him and beat him up while he was in custody.
According to a letter from Seeman’s attorney, Joshua R. Williams, the case was recently settled for $5,000.
The lawsuit stemmed from a June 2012 incident where several Faribault police officers responded to a local bar on a complaint of a fight in progress. While talking to witnesses at the scene, an officer saw Seeman recording their conversation on his cell phone.
According to the complaint filed by Williams, police asked Seeman for identification and when he refused, they confiscated his phone and placed him under arrest. While being transported to the Rice County Jail from the police car, Seeman alleges he was beaten by the police officers.
He was charged with obstruction of the legal process and with interfering with a police officer, but the charges were later dismissed.
In their answer, the city and officers claimed that Seeman was arrested for interfering with and obstructing their investigation of the bar fight because he refused to comply with repeated requests to stay back.
The city and the officers denied beating Seeman while transporting him to jail and say Seeman’s constitutional rights were not violated in any way during the incident.
Williams made the following statements in his letter regarding the settlement:
“The Faribault police officers, predictably, took the position in their Answer to Mr. Seeman’s Complaint that he was interfering with their duties during the June 2012 incident. I have brought dozens and dozens of police misconduct lawsuits against municipalities, and I can assure you they never offer $5,000 to settle unless they believe there is a chance the judge or jury will find that the officers violated my clients’ constitutional rights. While Mr. Seeman is glad he was able to achieve a monetary vindication for the unconstitutional arrest the Faribault officers subjected him to, his primary objective in suing the officers was to bring about positive change in the Faribault police department. Namely, to deter police officers from running roughshod over people’s constitutional rights.”
"The City paid nuisance money to avoid costs and save taxpayers money," Reuvers said. "The settlement was solely based on economics. There was no admission of liability."
"I stand behind my officers. They did nothing wrong," said Faribault Police Chief Andy Bohlen. "Mr. Seeman has bigger concerns now in the legal world that he’s dealing with."