Speed Reads

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Police don't pay damages in civil rights cases — taxpayers do

When police officers are found guilty of civil rights violations in civil suits, victims and/or their families frequently receive large monetary settlements that can total in the millions. But the guilty officers almost never pay those fines, instead shifting the costs to taxpayers through city government.

According to the research of UCLA law professor Joanna Schwartz, from 2006 to 2011 guilty officers paid just $171,300 out of $735 million in settlement costs in 9,225 cases from big cities. Schwartz says that New York City, where the family of Eric Garner will soon sue for $75 million, "has required officers to contribute small amounts when officers have been found to be acting outside of policy," but it is still typically a "minuscule fraction" of the total settlement.