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Madison pays $1.1M settlement in case involving police tactics against teenager

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Clash-Miller lawsuit

MADISON (WKOW) - Representatives of the city of Madison agreed to a $1.1 million settlement in a federal lawsuit over the police tactics used in detaining a teenager during a mental health crisis.

The lawsuit filed by David Clash-Miller of Madison was over the videotaped actions of police officers in their encounter with Clash-Miller in June 2019. 

The settlement comes the same week Clash-Miller was jailed and criminally charged with making threats against students on the UW-Madison campus.

The security footage shows the then-seventeen-year-old Clash-Miller walking into a room at a home with police officers present, who had responded to a mental health crisis call. Officers grab Clash-Miller and put him up against a wall, then pinned him on a couch. They eventually place a spit-hood over his head, with one officer punching the seemingly restrained teen three times in the head.

"I don't think David presented any problem to the police that day," Clash-Miller's attorney Roberth Gingras said.

Authorities said Clash-Miller was antagonistic and ignoring police commands.

"It just doesn't comport with the video," Gingras said.

"An outside agency reviewed all of the evidence surrounding this incident and determined that the officers’ use of force was within accepted methods and procedures of their training, as well as objectively reasonable under the relevant legal standard,' said Madison City Attorney Michael Haas. "The settlement reached by the City’s insurer with Mr. Clash-Miller represents a compromise of a disputed claim, entered into without any admission of wrongdoing by the officers."

"This was known to be a mental health crisis situation," Clash-Miller attorney Charles Giesen said. "There are trained, mental health response officers, yet none responded to this call."

Gingras hopes the settlement causes police department officials to reflect on the department's policing approach.

"I think the insurance companies are motivated to see that further training and improvement occurs," Gingras said.

Clash-Miller's attorneys say the settlement is structured as an annuity to provide Clash-Miller with payments over his lifetime. With earnings, the attorneys say the annuity is projected to pay out close to $2 million to Clash-Miller.

"When this incident occurred, David was in high school, and it destroyed or at least interrupted his high school education," Giesen says. "This settlement will give him the opportunity to finish his education."

"It will provide David with the financial security he will need for his lifetime," Gingras says.