Boynton Beach City Commissioners on Tuesday night approved settling a lawsuit filed by a man who accused city police of using excessive force and violating his civil rights in his 2014 arrest, according to the city’s Twitter account. The settlement is for $600,000.
Byron Harris, 29, filed the lawsuit in December. The Palm Beach Post reported in October that Harris and his attorney and the city’s attorneys met in mediation and agreed on the amount.
Mayor Steven Grant told The Post in October the decision to settle was made by the city’s insurance company.
The “insurance company decided it is a business decision to accept the $600,000 rather than go to trial,” he said.
Grant said the city has spent about $200,000 on the lawsuit. The settlement would be paid for by the insurance company, Grant said. If the city decided not to settle and the case was taken to trial, Boynton could be held responsible for all costs, Grant said.
Grant was absent from Tuesday’s commission meeting. The vote to approve the settlement was 4-0, the city’s Twitter feed shows.
Harris’ arrest was on Aug. 20, 2014. The encounter started when Harris rolled through a stop sign at about 2 a.m. An officer gave chase and saw Harris throw a bag of white powder out the window, Police Chief Jeffrey Katz said at a February 2015 news conference. Harris, with two passengers in the car, refused to stop for police, and while fleeing, hit and seriously injured a Boynton police officer with the car.
Officers followed Harris up Interstate 95, off Okeechobee Boulevard in West Palm Beach, down Interstate 95 and off at Sixth Avenue South in Lake Worth, where the chase finally came to an end. A Palm Beach County Sheriff’s helicopter captured the officers taking Harris and his passengers into custody. The officers are seen kicking and hitting Harris.
Katz asked the FBI to investigate the case. At the 2015 news conference, he said the main question was whether the officers’ actions were reasonable at the time. He said he has no reason to believe his officers broke police policy, and that the suspects were resisting arrest to an “extreme” level.
The lawsuit was filed against the city, and officers Michael Brown, Matthew Medeiros, Stephen Maiorino, Ronald Ryan, Justin Harris, Cory Herny and Alfred Martinez.
Harris, Ryan, Martinez and Maiorino are no longer with the department, Ercilia Messon, the city’s HR/Risk Coordinator, said in August.
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