MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - It was a jarring sight: A Minneapolis police officer spraying mace out the window of a squad car at seemingly peaceful protesters in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death. Cell phone video recorded by the Star Tribune captured the incident, which subsequently went viral.
The incident was central to a class action lawsuit that, for two years, shielded the identities of the cops involved. However, newly unsealed federal records reveal the officers involved and their identities, including now former MPD Officer Samantha Belcourt, who acknowledged in a deposition to spraying the chemical irritants.
Earlier this year, Belcourt scored a $150,000 workers’ compensation settlement after leaving the police force.
She’s one of at least 155 officers who have left the department with a big payout since the death of George Floyd. According to a FOX 9 Investigators analysis, nearly $26 million in settlements have been approved, while hundreds of officers claimed PTSD in the wake of the civil unrest.
"While, yes, that was a traumatic event for some police officers, the amount of PTSD from that seems really excessive," said Dave Bicking of the group Communities United Against Police Brutality.
In her worker’s compensation case, Belcourt was represented by attorney Ron Meuser, who specializes in PTSD. He also represents 85% of the cases analyzed by the FOX 9 Investigators.
"If these individuals have symptoms legitimately consistent with PTSD, it is not safe, in my opinion, to have them have to be out on the street," Meuser said in the days following the civil unrest.
In a recently released book by former television reporter Liz Collin, Belcourt details her reasons for leaving MPD amid the public’s shifting attitudes toward police. In one passage from the book, Belcourt said: "One of the hardest things I ever did was send my resignation letter. I worked so hard for my job. But when you feel like you can’t do it anymore – or you feel like you’re not wanted – it’s hard to go on."
In any case, an officer’s alleged misconduct does not factor into whether their worker’s compensation claim is approved or not – and the details surrounding those claims remain a protected secret.
Belcourt currently lives in Arizona, where she operates a frozen banana food truck business.