“I wonder how well his administration is aware of this policy. It is used to harm citizens, ”Hendrix told me.
This is part of a model in which the city has dealt with cases of police brutality for decades, with the aim of making it very difficult to compensate citizens when police overstep their limits. It often starts with bogus arrest charges. Even when presented with evidence that it was a citizen who was assaulted, and not the other way around, the city has always had a policy of not dropping charges unless the citizen did. agrees not to sue the city for damages.
For the city to then go after a citizen for about $ 50,000 in attorney fees for not winning all the charges is far too much, says Waldron. It creates a barrier for the poor to gain access to city and county courts by making the costs too high, either through fines and fees or, in this case, punitive legal action.
“Even if you go to court and even if you win a civil rights case against a police officer, you could still be the target of financial punishment by the city,” says Maureen Hanlon, another of Hendrix’s lawyers. . “These fees are a way of trying to punish people who stand up for their rights.”