City council approves Ward settlement

City council approves Ward settlement

CHAMPAIGN — The city council meeting had its highs and its lows on Tuesday night, including a formal conclusion of a hotly debated excessive-police-force saga that was 1 year old to the day.

Although the debate may still go on for quite some time.

City council members unanimously approved a $45,000 settlement with Brandon Ward, who last year filed a complaint regarding his June 5, 2011, arrest for resisting a police officer. Video footage of the arrest later surfaced, setting off public debate over whether Officer Patrick Simons used excessive force in detaining a discontented Ward after attempting to stop him for jaywalking.

All criminal charges against Ward were dropped, but the public scrutiny of both his and Simons' actions was not.

An avalanche of investigations and reports ultimately led to Tuesday night's meeting, where city council members agreed to pay Ward $45,000 in advance of probable litigation.

Ward's settlement was approved in a group with two others:

— $50,000 to Gary McFarland of Champaign to settle a claim involving his arrest on Oct. 1, 2011.

— $42,000 to Barbara Griffiths for injuries she received when she slipped and fell at the entrance to a fire station at 2315 W. John St. on Dec. 4, 2008.

Some speakers felt hopeful that Tuesday night's formal conclusion could help the city to move on from the controversy.

"I think we should have faith now, trust them," said Lynn Anderson, a candidate for a soon-to-be-vacant District 3 seat on the council. "Let's go forward."

Activist Aaron Ammons was not as hopeful.

"If you were really serious about moving forward, then you would get rid of officers that beat up kids in the back of cars," Ammons said.

He said giving cash to Ward does not solve the broader issues facing other residents in the city.

"It does not address the concerns and lack of trust that the entire community is feeling," Ammons said.

In other business:

— The city council unanimously approved the next fiscal year's budget, which includes $350,000 in spending reductions. City officials say that number is nominal compared with the past several years', which held millions of dollars in budget cuts.

— Council members voted unanimously to extend North Fourth Street 500 feet beyond its current terminus at Bradley Avenue. City officials say the $490,000 is important for future development, and they expected it to be completed by September at the latest.

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handyman65 wrote on June 05, 2012 at 11:06 pm

Another payout to the thugs of society! If this keeps happening I'm going to do something minor to get arrested and then resist arrest so I can get payed when the police use " excessive force".

cretis16 wrote on June 06, 2012 at 8:06 am

What smart people we have in city giverment.....hey, I stubbed my toe on the door at City Hall, can I have $5,000?

Speakerman11 wrote on June 06, 2012 at 1:06 am

Lovely, just lovely!  Wonderful message to communicate to future criminals: just resist, take a little hit of mace, and CHA-CHING! PAY DAY! What can I say, Im jealous.  Wish I made that kind of money in 90 minutes time.  Its not my business, but I hope he uses the hard earned money wisely......

Enough is enough with the mace.  Time to graduate to tazers.  Catch one of those in the thigh or the small of your back and one will for sure think twice of running thier trap.  Id be willing to bet my bottom dollar every officer in the department would rather handle a tazer than mace. I know I would.  As an officer, if I had to use the mace to defend myself and caught some oversprary, the level of irritability and chance for unreasonable reaction grows exponentially, because of the hightened stress.  With that tazer, what you see is what you get.  $30K will buy 25.....


rsp wrote on June 06, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Let's give them all tasers so they can make sure we all "know our place", right? Because people talking out loud as they walk down the street is a threat to public safety. No point talking to the public, just go straight to the taser. 

alabaster jones 71 wrote on June 06, 2012 at 6:06 am
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There is no basis to imply that Mr. Ward is a "thug" or a "criminal" based on this incident.  He was jaywalking for cripes sakes.  Gee, handyman, I wonder if you are calling him a thug because he's black?

Now, all that being said, Ward doesn't deserve $45,000 for this incident.  He doesn't even deserve $4,500.  If it were up to me how much he got, he would get a check for any medical costs associated with the incident, maybe throw in an extra $1,000 for his trouble as an apology of sorts, and that would be it.  There, I saved us $44,000 that could be spent on improving the community instead.  Unfortunately, in our lawsuit-crazed country, that isn't realistic.  The city probably realizes that it would cost even more if the issue was settled in court instead.

I believe that the Ward incident was handled terribly by the officer in question, but it's not as if he suffered a significant injury.  That money may seem free to him, but it's not.  It's just other people's money that he lucked into.  I hope he gives some of it back to the community or to charity, but I doubt it.  If he is like most folks, he will probably buy himself a new car or TV instead.  Oh well.

Beem wrote on June 06, 2012 at 9:06 am

What, no money for Calvin Miller?

ShelbyR wrote on June 06, 2012 at 10:06 am

We all know Calvin plead guilty, just as he should have.

Mark Taylor wrote on June 06, 2012 at 10:06 am

The people running their traps complaining about this are right. All the cops did was follow these black kids, ignore white kids doing the same jay walking, ram their car up to them like a missile, pepper spray them right off the bat, bang his head on the squad car hood while he was cuffed, and choke the kid also while he was cuffed.

I mean the kid deserved it -- it was mouthing off to a cop while black. If we don't let the cops beat some sense into these kids, society will surely fall.

Speakerman11 wrote on June 06, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Well, somebody in his life along the line surely failed (just like Calvin's father and Kiawanne's caretaker)....he failed to respect and comply with authority.  Had he ate some humble pie for 30 seconds and respectfully answered the officers preliminary questions, he wouldnt have been rubbing mace out of his eyes and this news story and comment thread wouldnt even exist.  People often times forget how important a first impression / initial approach really is.  We are blessed with many freedoms as legal citizens (all creeds, languages and colors).  However, when a law ENFORCEMENT officer wants to converse with you (no matter your color or creed) and do thier job, a simple 'yes sir' or 'no sir' goes a long way!  And not in the tone like you are entitled and have been so unjustly inconvenienced! 

ShelbyR wrote on June 06, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Well said, I don't understand what the big issue is of simply responding to an Officers questions in a at least somewhat respectable manner.  Settlements like this will only make it more difficult for Officers.  Officers are there to uphold the law, not babysit and be concerned if what they say or do may hurt or offend someone feelings.  It's a big what if, but what if this person had a weapon and harmed the Officer immediatley instead of crying about being questioned?

Time for people to get their heads our of their butts and let Officers do their jobs.  I have to wonder how people will respond if when they are in need of the protection of Law Enforcement that Law Enforcement is not able to do their job due to possibly being sued or loss of job for simply doing their job.

If there is an Officer out there that does abuse their power, that certainly will show, and at that time they should be reviewed, but not just because someone does not feel they should be questioned or detained.  If innocent that will also be evident.

As you said, if this person had simply stopped and responded to the Officer there would not be this article or the settlement.

Mark Taylor wrote on June 06, 2012 at 4:06 pm

I know, right? I mean, we all know that no innocent person has ever been convicted ever. Or even arrested. And every single police officer that violated the littlest rule was fired later that very day. And that cop was in no way targeting this guy and his friends. There's a perfectly good reason why he ignored the white kids jaywalking and beat this kid up. Yep, he sure did deserve it. And we can call him a 'thug' to prove it.

ShelbyR wrote on June 06, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Actually Mark this person made himself a target with his actions, these actions have not been reported for whatever reason, all I am seeing is jaywalking.  This person was picking fights as he "innocently" walked along the sidewalk, sadly this was not shown on the video.  So please all you whiny butt people stop claiming he was targeted or whatever any of you want to call it.  I guess in you opinion since there are times that innocent are arrested and convicted you don't want any arrests unless you are there to supervise and know for fact a person is guilty.  And yes he is a thug we don't have to prove it, he already has.

rsp wrote on June 06, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Who was he pickiing fights with as he walked down the sidewalk being followed by two of Champaign's Finest? Who I might add decided to walk away from him. If he was picking fights with people as he went down the street as you would like people to believe I don't think they would have let him continue to attack people unprovoked. Or are you suggesting the two officers who were on foot were unprofessional? You can't have it both ways? 

Mark Taylor wrote on June 06, 2012 at 11:06 pm

You can tell they were picking fights by the way they were walking, all aggressive and proud. I know because my double secret source told me so. The police didn't stop them or charge them for this illegal activity because they knew the liberal justice system would just let them off anyway. It's so dang simple, any idiot can see it.

ShelbyR wrote on June 06, 2012 at 10:06 am

Why it is still being reported that the only reason this man was stopped was for jaywalking?  I don't understand why the rest of what he was doing is not being reported.  And you can bet this "settlement" will not be used wisely.

Local Yocal wrote on June 06, 2012 at 12:06 pm
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What a horrible message to send to the police officers: "Do whatever the hell you want, and we'll cover it with some lunch money and you can keep your job." The young man should have been paid millions. But instead, the government gets off easy once again only because the police pick their victims wisely, people without the means to hire civil attorneys.

ShelbyR wrote on June 06, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Seems to me the message is not to the Officers but the offenders.  Seems to me it says, go a head disrepect everyone including Officers, we will pay you a nice sum for being a burden to society.

I don't see where the police "pick their victims", if someone is abiding by the law, the police are not going to "pick them".

And millions?  Now that makes me laugh.  People with your attitude is exactly whats wrong with society today, God forbid don't take responsibilty for your actions, blame someone else and sue them.

Mark Taylor wrote on June 06, 2012 at 4:06 pm

That's right. Those white kids who were jaywalking had permission slips so they weren't doing anything wrong. Just the black kid.

ShelbyR wrote on June 06, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Markie, Markie, maybe you would like to take in all these misunderstood "youth".  Sounds to me that YOU are racist against whites.  And once again, those "white kids" were not picking fights...

Mark Taylor wrote on June 06, 2012 at 11:06 pm

Now, Shelb, how can I be racist against myself? Take them in? No. I say LOCK THEM UP FOR 20 YEARS IF THEY LOOK AT A REAL CITIZEN CROSS EYED, THE THUGS!!

And I agree, the white kids who were jay walking too weren't doing anything wrong -- they had special permission. And I agree it's so obvious the thugs were picking fights all up and down the streets. You can tell by the way they were strutting. The police following them didn't stop them because they were just gathering evidence.

Any fool can see that.

rsp wrote on June 07, 2012 at 1:06 am

You know they stopped my son with me and the other kids in the car around the corner from our house several years ago. At first I thought it was funny, right, he's stopping white people for being in a black neighborhood. So we all gave him our IDs like it was a joke but without even looking at them he asked us what we were doing in "that" neighborhood. I saw what he did with the IDs.

We were three blocks from home. If he had looked at the IDs he would have known that; if he had ran the tags on the car he would have known. But he assumed that because of our skin color we didn't belong there and he wanted to make sure we knew it. After I refused to let him search the car he told us to have a nice day. How do you have a nice day after that?

alabaster jones 71 wrote on June 06, 2012 at 4:06 pm
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Millions?!?!  I almost spit iced tea all over my laptop when I read that.


Abusive police behavior harms society, yeah.  The cop in this case acted very foolishly.  But you know what else harms society?  Our litigious attitude.  If anyone does anything to inconvenience me, I want the courts involved!  Making money off other people's mistakes instead of actually doing something to earn it.

Local Yocal wrote on June 06, 2012 at 9:06 pm
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"Time for people to get their heads our of their butts..." The best comment yet in discussing this topic on this site.

There's little anyone can do to get people to look at the videotape and accept what they are seeing. There's little anyone can do to overcome people's ignorance of the law and police procedure. There's little anyone can do to convince people how prevalent it is for The Champaign Police to engage in this type of rogue, viligante "who's the boss, now?" provoking behavior toward young, African-Americans. The police caught on videotape in this incident didn't invent these behaviors just for the occasion of June 5th. It reflects a longstanding mentality and a continued practice by some on the force that has created the bad, unjustified surveillance, poor communication and thuggish apprehension techniques we see deployed on the videotape. I suppose it shouldn't be surprising that so many in segregated Champaign County support this type of police work, as long as it happens only to "those people."

It's easy for the arm-chair quarterbacks who chime in with their "common sense" on this site to say "always respect the police and all will go well." That is a claim that can be made by those who have never experienced what it is like to be followed by police for no reason (again), to be singled out while others are doing the same damn thing, grabbed by the collar without explanation, "rabbit punched" by police utilizing ever more vicious and painful uses of force, suffer unnecessary uses of force after you've been placed in handcuffs, and then criminally charged and tried in our courts of law for stuff you did not do. In courts that provide little legal representation and opportunity to confront your accusers. From departments who do not monitor, regulate, and discipline their ranks.That is a real history, an ongoing history, and was the topic of discussion when the African American pedestrians were loudly protesting the behavior of the two on-foot officers on the videotape. To now command "Respect the police," will likely be met from certain segments of the community, "Why? When have the police and courts ever respected us?" That is a condition created by an unsupervised criminal justice system.

The far more dangerous attitude in our society is not the litigious one, but the one where those entrusted with enforcing the rules, don't follow the rules. When the good guys behave like bad guys, and their supervisors give it their blessing, that's when law and order will surely deteriorate. If anyone should ever attempt to unneccessarily rough up alabaster jones 71 under the cover of a badge, and then attempt to kidnap alabaster jones 71 for up to three years in a penetentiary by way of perjury, then alabaster jones 71 should be paid millions. That kind of dollar amount is the only way municipalities are going to adopt a zero tolerance policy toward the type of behavior caught on videotape and the behavior that was done after the video was turned off. This settlement for less than the annual insurance premium The City pays will do little to get it through the cops' and lawyers' brains that civilized society demands better.

Beem wrote on June 06, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Local, if any attorney thought any of these were justifiable civil cases, capable of receiving "millions", they would have come knocking without being approached, settling for a piece of the reward.

rsp wrote on June 06, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Most local attorneys don't take these cases, you have to get someone from Chicago or someplace else out of town. Too many conflicts.

NewVegas wrote on June 06, 2012 at 2:06 pm

Bigger issue is why are we paying $490,000 to extend 4th street 500 feet? Can we use that to repair 4th street cause its horrible to drive on.