ST. PAUL — Activist groups called on the St. Paul City Council on Tuesday, Jan. 14, to freeze the police department’s budget, pointing to settlements paid over the last decade in lawsuits claiming excessive force and in K-9 bite cases.
Monique Cullars-Doty, whose nephew was fatally shot by St. Paul police officers five years ago, said “it is time to not just march in the street, but get some things done and have some change.”
Cullars-Doty, who is a member of Twin Cities Coalition 4 Justice 4 Jamar, Black Lives Matter Minnesota and other groups, said she and members of activist organizations want the City Council to not fund the police department beyond its current budget “until we see an end to these disgraceful acts, a guarantee of transparency in the future and justice for victims and their families.”
The 2020 general fund budget for the police department, approved by the council last month, is about $105 million. The police department released a staffing study on Monday that concluded the department needs 103 more employees, mostly officers, to respond to 911 calls quickly and keep up with case load.
Three St. Paul City Council members did not respond to inquiries Tuesday.
Cullars-Doty outlined what she called “The St. Paul Police Department: A Decade of Disgrace in Review” at a press conference on Tuesday.
She discussed not only settlements in lawsuits, but also a variety of controversies, including flawed drug-testing practices at the police department’s then-unaccredited crime lab that came to light in 2012 and an officer whom a federal grand jury convicted in November of excessive force against Frank Baker in 2016.
After the City Council approved a record $2 million settlement to Baker in 2017, settlements involving the police department have been on the decline. The city paid $788,000 in 2018 and $24,000 last year to settle lawsuits against the police, according to information from the city attorney’s office.
Cullars-Doty said her family plans to file a lawsuit over the death of her nephew, 24-year-old Marcus Golden, on Jan. 14, 2015.
A grand jury cleared two St. Paul police officers in the shooting. Police said a loaded handgun was found within Golden’s reach in the SUV, though Golden’s family disputes that and other information in police reports, including that Golden was trying to run over an officer.