WATERLOO, Iowa – An Iowa city will pay $85,500 to settle a lawsuit involving a 13-year-old girl who was handcuffed after yelling at a police officer to "slow down" as he sped by in his patrol car, according to a settlement agreement.
The girl's 2014 arrest was one of several questionable uses of force by white police officers against black residents in Waterloo, which has the highest percentage of black residents of any Iowa city but a mostly white police force. The incidents have led to criticism of the city's police department and calls for reform.
Court records revealed that Waterloo had a tentative settlement with the girl's family in July, but didn't disclose the details. The agreement was finalized Wednesday and released to The Associated Press under the open records law.
The city has now paid $2.75 million in the last year to settle five lawsuits that alleged excessive force by white officers on black residents. The bulk went to the family of a 22-year-old man who was fatally shot while running from an officer in 2012.
In three other recently disclosed incidents, white officers faced discipline for yanking on the hair of a suspect after a chase, for mocking a teenage homicide victim at the crime scene and for using a racial epithet during an arrest.
Mayor Quentin Hart said in September that he was troubled by the incidents and ordered Waterloo's police chief, Daniel Trelka, to improve relations between officers and the city's black community. About 16 percent of Waterloo's 68,000 residents are black, the highest percentage of any city in the state.
In the case of the 13-year-old girl, squad car video shows the girl walking with another child on the side of the street when Officer Timothy Everett drives by. She yells "slow down!" The officer makes a hasty U-turn and then gets out of his car, asking: "Who said it?"
The girl admitted it was her, but then refused the officer's multiple orders to give her last name, saying she wanted to speak with her mother. Everett then handcuffs the girl with her hands behind her back on the ground. The lawsuit alleged that her right arm and shoulders were injured during the arrest.
The girl was charged with harassment of a public official, which was later dismissed.
The girl's mother filed a complaint over the arrest. Using physical restraints against juveniles is generally illegal in Iowa, as are arrests based solely on a person's refusal to give her name.
But an internal affairs investigation by Waterloo police found that Everett was justified in handcuffing the girl, arguing that she tried to flee once told she was under arrest. The investigation found no department policies were violated and accused the girl of "obstructing traffic and making raucous noises in the area of businesses and dwellings."
That allegation is at odds with the video but was backed by two alleged witnesses whose names and contact information were later acknowledged by the city to be fictitious. The girl's lawyer, Tom Newkirk, suggested the witnesses were fabricated to justify the officer's actions, while the city said they were likely immigrants living in the U.S. illegally who gave false information.
Trelka has said that while Everett didn't face discipline, the department has instructed officers to no longer make arrests when suspects refuse to provide their names, absent other probable cause.