PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia has begun settling more than 300 lawsuits against police officers accused of misconduct, many of which target members of a narcotics squad that was under investigation as recent as two years ago.
The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News reported the city already has paid more than $2 million to settle 75 cases against a narcotics squad as courts began overturning convictions built by the squad three years ago.
Philadelphia could pay up to $8 million to resolve complaints against the narcotics squad cases, according to a city bond document.
The city also could pay up to $16 million to resolve two unrelated charges of wrongful murder convictions, according to the document.
The costs come on top of an average of $9 million paid each year to settle civil rights claims against city police officers.
Six of the narcotics officers accused of misconduct were acquitted in a 2015 criminal trial, and five are still police officers.
However, prosecutors threw out 1,000 convictions that were built by the narcotics squad’s investigations after the District Attorney’s office announced in 2012 that it would no longer prosecute cases brought by the officers.
Alan Yatvin, liaison counsel for dozens of lawyers representing plaintiffs against the narcotics officers, contends the payouts are a consequence of years of abuses.
The city evaluated all circumstances of each case before making settlement decisions, City Law Department spokesman Mike Dunn said. The city “has instituted substantive reforms that we believe will, going forward, significantly decrease the likelihood” of alleged misconduct, he said.
The taxpayer-funded city budget includes about $44.9 million for liabilities resulting from lawsuits against the city.
Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer, http://www.inquirer.com