The Minneapolis City Council approved a settlement Friday in favor of University of Minnesota student Augustin Ganley, who alleged abuses by city police at a protest in 2007.
Police arrested Ganley Aug. 31, 2007 at a Critical Mass bike rally, but he was acquitted during his April 2008 criminal trial. He responded with a civil lawsuit, and the city settled in the amount of $70,800 in December.
According to a Minneapolis City Council report, as police were arresting a fellow biker at the rally in 2007, Ganley and roughly 200 to 300 protestors gathered around the officer, yelling at him to let the activist go free.
Police said Ganley ignored orders to step back, and he was arrested after a struggle. During his criminal trial, Ganley was acquitted of assault, obstructing the legal process and fleeing a police officer, according to the report.
Three Minneapolis police officers testified against Ganley at the trial, but contradictory accounts from defense eyewitnesses and cell phone video allegedly showing Ganley’s interaction with police eventually led to his acquittal by the jury.
“If it weren’t for the videotape, it’s very likely that my client would have been found guilty of a crime he didn’t commit,” said Ganley’s attorney, Jordan Kushner.
But Assistant City Attorney Timothy Skarda said the video is of poor quality and that it is difficult to make out who the figures are.
In October, a judge issued a summary judgment in Ganley’s favor that included allegations of false arrest, violation of First Amendment rights and false imprisonment, among other assertions.
A trial was scheduled for Jan. 4, but the two parties reached a settlement before it became necessary.
“There’s a lot of risk involved in trials for all the sides involved, and my client isn’t particularly greedy,” Kushner said. “He wanted to make his point and decided that this was sufficient.”