Attorney surprised, concerned by $20 million Ruszcyk family settlement with Minneapolis

Three days after Mohamed Noor was convicted of murder and manslaughter, the Ruszczyk family and the city of Minneapolis announced the largest police shooting settlement in Minnesota history Friday.

The settlement was for $20 million, which is the biggest settlement ever for the city of Minneapolis.

“This is an unmistakable message to change the Minneapolis Police Department,” said Bob Bennet, of the Ruszczyk family attorney.

The historic civil suit will mean $18 million will be paid to Justine Ruszczyk’s family and $2 million will go to a Safe Communities Fund.

The city’s chief financial officer told FOX 9 that Minneapolis does not have outside insurance, so those millions are paid out of their self-insurance fund, which is an internal account that covers claims like Friday’s.  

While it is the highest amount they’ve ever paid, the payment won’t dry up the city’s account. Still, the settlement figure has shocked some local attorneys.

“It’s not just me, I really am blown away by this,” said Paul Applebaum, of Applebuam Law Firm.

Applebaum tried police misconduct cases for years and says this could set a new standard when it comes to settlements with the police department.

“It’s going to be tough for the city to push back and argue that your demands are unrealistic or unreasonable when they’ve gone and written a check for $20 million on a case like this,” said Applebaum.

Mayor Jacob Frey says the settlement is not about race and highlighted the reasons why the city agreed to the deal.

“One of them is criminal conviction of third-degree murder and that Officer Noor identified no threat before using force,” he said.

Applebaum believes the settlement could deepen rifts between the minority community and the MPD.

“I’m worried about the future and I’m worried this is a divisive settlement rather than actually bringing that chapter to a close,” he said.

Applebaum said the speed at which the civil case was settled was also shocking. He said usually something like this would take years, not days.

He and other colleagues thought the dollar amount would look more like $5 or $6 million as well.