Minneapolis Park Board Reaches $170K Settlement With Families Of Somali Teens Held At Gunpoint
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The families of four Somali-American teenagers have reached a settlement after Minneapolis Park Police officers handcuffed the boys and held them at gunpoint in July of 2018.
Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board resolved discrimination charges Wednesday, filed with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, for $170,000.
Jaylani Hussein, executive director of Minnesota's chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, applauded the decision at a press conference.
"We're happy to report that this incident is behind them, but they're still traumatized from what took place," Hussein said.
It was an incident caught on camera that the four teens involved say will live with them forever.
"I was scared," one of the teens said. "I thought that would be my last day of this world."
The incident began with a 911 call claiming there were four males holding knives and sticks in Minnehaha Park. The caller also said one of them claimed to have a gun, and that they were assaulting her boyfriend.
Months later, the teens were still shook up over what happened when park police confronted them
"When the cops came, they just pulled guns to our faces," said another one of the victims during a 2018 press conference.
"He told me to get down, and then he handcuffed me, and then he picked me up and slammed me on the ground," said a third victim during the same 2018 press conference. "I was scared. One was shaking. I was scared he was going to shoot me."
Body camera video released by park police show the interaction between officers and teens. Police found no weapons. Witnesses came forward, and their account of what happened was different from the 911 callers.
"This incident, we believe, we would not be here talking about it if wasn't for the courageous, determined and important witnesses and bystanders who not only recorded the incident, but also came to the aide of the young people," Hussein said.
The video is hard to watch, but Sirat Guffe, mother of one of the victims, said through a translator that the families are determined to let the settlement signal the beginning of healing.
"Obviously, this incident was very traumatic, and to heal from it will take time," Guffe said.
The park board and the families involved all agreed that a settlement would avoid the costs of going to court. It also means the park board and park police do not admit any wrongdoing.
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