Boston paid $36m to settle police lawsuits

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Boston paid $36m to settle police lawsuits

Largest payouts over decade were for deaths, wrongful convictions

By Todd Wallack, Jan Ransom and Travis Andersen GLOBE STAFF MAY 15, 2015

The City of Boston has spent more than $36 million to resolve 2,000 legal claims and lawsuits against the Boston Police Department over the past decade, with most of the money going for cases alleging wrongful convictions or police misconduct.

The bulk of the payouts, $31 million, went for 22 cases worth $100,000 or more, including nine awards for well over $1 million apiece, according to data provided by the mayor’s office in response to a public records request filed by the Globe.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh told reporters Thursday that many of the city’s settlements predated his administration, so he couldn’t speak in detail about the volume or nature of the cases. “Unfortunately, sometimes settlements have to happen,” he said, noting that every case is handled differently. “Oftentimes, it is a better, cheaper way to settle out of court than go to court with it.”

Boston civil rights lawyer Howard Friedman, who handled some of the largest settlements in which those involved contended that they were wrongfully convicted of crimes, said the payouts could have resulted in even larger verdicts had the city not agreed to settle.

Others involved people who were killed at the hands of officers or suffered permanent injuries.

“Settling was smart for the city,” Friedman said. “These are just terrible cases.”