Article by: MATT MCKINNEY , Star Tribune | Updated: June 1, 2013 - 9:41 PM
A family that sued a Minneapolis police over a 2011 raid of their home, one that led to the shooting of two dogs and a list of ugly allegations against officers, has won a $225,000 settlement, a city spokesman confirmed this week.
The allegations laid out in James and Aisha Keten’s lawsuit against 15 members of the department portray the officers as cavalier and reckless, firing weapons at targets near children, screaming profanities and racial slurs, and taking cash from the family while searching for a rifle.
The search warrant’s focus was Lamont Keten, a suspect in an April 3, 2011, shooting. He was in custody by the time the police SWAT team arrived at his brother James Keten’s duplex. The warrant authorized the police to search for a .223 rifle that had been used in the shooting, according to court documents.
Two days before the search, James Keten had spoken to police about the shooting when he agreed to meet the officer assigned to the case, according to the lawsuit. Two days later, as Keten and his wife and two daughters ate breakfast and prepared for their day, the SWAT team entered the ground-floor duplex.
A dog in the front living room was shot immediately, as was a second dog in the kitchen, according to the lawsuit and the city’s response. The Ketens said that their daughters, ages 1 and 3, were eating breakfast at the kitchen table at the time, and that some of the dog’s blood splattered on the 3-year-old girl. The city disputed some of these allegations but agreed that the 3-year-old was at the kitchen table when a dog in the kitchen was shot and killed.
The Ketens’ account of the search warrant included several more allegations, all of which the city disputed: that officers beat James Keten in the head, neck and face during the search, ordering him to “shut up” while using profanity and racial slurs, that his wife’s purse was searched and that officers took $9,400 from it, and that officers broke furniture and tore down curtains.
The City Council approved a $225,000 settlement on March 29.
In a prepared statement, Police Chief Janeé Harteau said: "This incident occurred two years ago, and I do not have all the details about the case. However, as the new chief, I can reassure everyone that police misconduct will not be tolerated by the department. I fully support our officers in the work they do to keep our city safe each day but will also hold them accountable for their actions to ensure they are consistent with our core values."
Matt McKinney • 612-217-1747