$170k settlement reached with Somali-American teens who were held at gunpoint by cops

January 24, 2020 at 04:00 pm | News

Francis Akhalbey

Francis Akhalbey | Staff Writer

January 24, 2020 at 04:00 pm | News

Four Somali-American teenagers who were detained and held at gunpoint have reached a $170,000 settlement with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

The discrimination complaint was filed with the state Department of Human Rights.

The incident occurred in July 2018 at Minnehaha Park after the police responded to a call from a female who falsely accused the teens of trailing her boyfriend with knives and sticks, according to KARE-11. The police, who located the boys, subsequently detained them in handcuffs. One of the officers also drew a gun for about a minute.

Eyewitnesses who recorded the incident also tried convincing the officers the boys were innocent but to no avail. They were, however, released when the police realized they were unarmed.

The settlement, which was announced Wednesday by the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) will see the families of the teens receive $40,000 each. The remaining $10,000 will cover attorney fees for CAIR-MN.

“The families have gone through a lot. The young kids have also gone through a lot from this incident,” CAIR-MN Executive Director, Jaylani Hussein said at a press conference to announce the settlement Wednesday, KARE-11 further reports.

“We are happy today to report that this incident is behind them, but they’re still traumatized.”

The final court ruling on the settlement was reached as far back November 2018, CAIR-MN also revealed.

The teens, who spoke to KARE-11 in the aftermath of the incident in 2018 claimed they feared for their lives after they were subjected to racial slurs by a white teenager, who threatened to harm them with a knife and a garbage lid.

“I just thought when police came, I basically thought they were going to go to that suspect because he had the knife,” one of them said. “We were cooperative but they still… They mistreated us, still. And they wouldn’t listen to us.”

In a statement, the Park Board was adamant the settlement was not an admission of guilt.

“We are committed to providing safe and welcoming parks for everyone,” Al Bangoura, Superintendent of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board said.

“We took the 2018 incident at Minnehaha Falls seriously and conducted an independent employment investigation of our officers’ conduct. With last year’s settlement the juveniles, their families, and the MPRB can move forward.”

An internal review of the incident by the Park Board concluded the officers followed correct procedure when they detained the teens. They, however, held one of the officers liable for not calming down the situation as well as not explaining their actions to the teens after they were released. He was suspended for two days and underwent training, KARE-11 reports.

“We still deal with the fear and trauma of this incident, but part of that healing process is knowing that we’re getting justice,” one of the mothers of the teens said at the press conference via a translator. “Moving forward, we want to make sure that this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

The body-cam footage of the incident was also released Wednesday.

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