More MPD workers comp claims tabled, vote moved to December

The Minneapolis city council committee moved a vote to approve settlements in yet another round of workers' compensation claims by police officers to Dec. 

The new vote comes after council members rejected their very first claim in these types of cases, signaling a possible shift in how these things are handled.

A few of the cases before the committee could face pushback, considering those officers' record and recent action by the committee.

In October, Minneapolis’ policy and government oversight committee rejected a worker’s comp settlement for the very first time since the murder of George Floyd and the unrest that followed, possibly signaling that the city council will no longer be rubber-stamping these claims.

"I think it's been enough for me for quite some time. I think it's been enough for lots of residents," Minneapolis City Council member Robin Wonsley said in an interview in October during the vote to reject a claim by Minneapolis police officer Andrew Bittell. 

Bittell was among a team firing less than lethal rounds at those out past curfew during the George Floyd protests. When Jaleel Stallings fired back in self-defense claiming the officers didn’t identify themselves as police, Bittell and another officer assaulted him.

Last month, Wonsley said she couldn’t sign off on the settlement given Bittell’s record.

"You can’t take these PTSD settlement claims in isolation without thinking of the liability settlement we’ve had to pay to survivors of police misconduct,"Wonsley said. 

Andrew Braun, or example, was named as a defendant in the case of the freelance journalist shot in the eye with a non-lethal round during the George Floyd protests. The journalist was eventually awarded more than half a million dollars in a settlement with the city.

Then there’s Peter Brazeau, who in 2016 punched a handcuffed man in the face multiple times as he lay on the ground. Originally fired for the incident, he was re-instated by an arbitrator, and even became a field training officer.

City attorneys have claimed that prior misconduct is largely not relevant to whether an employer is obligated to pay benefits.

"I understand the Council’s frustration because I share it. Generally, these settlements are approved not because the City wants to, but because the alternative could be more expensive…" Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said in an Oct. statement.  

FOX 9 reached out to the law firm representing most of those officers and has yet to hear back.