Isanti settles excessive force case for nearly $250,000

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The City of Isanti has settled a federal excessive force lawsuit for nearly a quarter-million dollars, according to an attorney who handled the case.

The payout comes more than a year after 5 INVESTIGATES reported on the case that led to the firings or resignations of three people involved.

Tampering with justice: Police chief interfered in criminal investigation, stayed on job for 15 months

The allegations of excessive force date back to an encounter in a jailhouse elevator in February of 2017. Surveillance video shows former Isanti Police Officer Rodrick Barrows taking down inmate Michael Sears, who was handcuffed and admittedly drunk.

Barrows was charged with assault and later found not guilty.

But 5 INVESTIGATES found that the investigation was marred by the city’s former police chief Gene Hill, who tampered with witnesses, lied in court and inappropriately released evidence.

Former Isanti chief, officer named in federal lawsuit after witness tampering, lying in court

Former officer Barrows, Chief Hill, and even the city attorney at the time all ended up resigning or were fired.

5 INVESTIGATES learned that late last month, the city quietly settled the federal suit brought by Michael Sears.

Sears’ attorney, Andy Noel said the city paid out $235,000 to settle the matter.

Noel told 5 INVESTIGATES that his client is “pleased the matter is resolved” and added that he hopes the City of Isanti is in better hands now that a “rogue police chief” is no longer there.

Isanti Mayor Jeff Johnson said that the settlement was paid out through the Minnesota League of Cities, which acts as its insurance policy, but offered no further comment.