Damond-Ruszczyk family sues Minneapolis ‘for more than $50 million’

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Justine Ruszczyk Damond

As promised. Says Jon Collins for MPR: “The family of Justine Ruszczyk filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court Monday against the city of Minneapolis, police officials and the officers involved in her death. … Robert Bennett, attorney for the Ruszczyk family, opened by reading a statement from Justine’s father, John Ruszczyk. ‘We want Minneapolis police culture to be reformed in such a way and to the extent necessary to stop such senseless acts from happening again and again,’ according to the statement. ‘We haven’t had any explanation [for why Justine was killed] so we’re filing suit now,’ Bennett said.”

In the Star Tribune, Paul Walsh and Libor Jany say, “The suit, which refers to her as Justine Maia Ruszczyk, seeks more than $50 million in damages. … Speaking to reporters Monday, Bennett cited news reports that dozens of fellow officers, acting on the advice of union attorneys, had refused to cooperate with state and local investigators. Bennett, who specializes in police misconduct cases, said the officers’ conduct forced County Attorney Mike Freeman to convene a grand jury to gather the evidence to charge Noor. ‘It’s well-established the blue wall of silence exists in Minneapolis,’ he said, referring to the unwritten code against testifying against fellow officers.” 

But will the people who don’t know this read an editorial? The Strib picks up a Mankato Free Press opinion piece, which says, “A recent visit to southwestern Minnesota by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis president reaffirms what many economic experts already had determined, but the message bears repeating: Rural Minnesota needs immigrants to work and live here. … They’re the only population group still growing in Minnesota, according to the Center for Rural Policy and Development, a nonpartisan, not-for-profit policy research organization based in Mankato.”

Step by step. Barry Amundson of the Forum News Service says, “Children requiring intensive in-patient psychiatric care will no longer have to travel out of state. The Minnesota Department of Health said in a release that a Duluth facility, called the Northwood Children’s Services Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility, is now providing mental health services in a non-hospital setting for up to 48 children under age 21. Services offered will be medical care, intensive psychotherapy, recreational programming, full-time nursing care, educational services  and a higher staff to patient ratio.”

Every year about now. At MPR Paul Huttner says, “At least 63 wildfires burning in Ontario are belching out smoke plumes that will likely drift into Minnesota at times. The Canadian Broadcast Corporation reports nearly 30 of those blazes are out of control. … Dozens of wildfires dot the map across the Canadian province that makes up Minnesota’s northern border. … Smoke plumes from the fires east of Winnipeg, Manitoba near the Ontario border have been visible from space on weather satellites.”

Winning. Dee DePass of the Strib writes, “The CEO of Cleveland Cliffs has made one of the boldest statements yet on the resurgence of the taconite industry on Minnesota’s Iron Range. Lourenco Goncalves — whose company runs Hibbing Taconite, United Taconite and Northshore Mining in Minnesota — said demand for iron ore and a rising price for the mineral has resulted in second-quarter profits quadrupling year over year. He said he expects to see the same results into next year.”

Swanson joins DACA caseFrom the AP: “Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson is joining a nationwide lawsuit seeking to protect a program for immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. President Donald Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program earlier this year and called on Congress to replace it. … Swanson says she wants to ‘stop the rug from being pulled out’ from under 800,000 so-called Dreamers in the program. She filed a brief Monday in the federal case surrounding Trump’s decision to rescind the program. Swanson is running in a three-way Democratic primary for governor on Aug. 14. She has been criticized by some Democrats as not being aggressive enough in challenging the Trump administration.”

The Strib’s report on rape has become an issue in the governor’s race. Tim Pugmire at MPR reports, “A candidate for Minnesota governor is calling for sweeping changes in the way law enforcement agencies investigate sexual assault. State Rep. Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul, outlined her plan Monday in response to a Star Tribune report that sexual assaults statewide are being investigated poorly or not at all. Murphy is the DFL-endorsed candidate for governor. She is facing Lori Swanson and Tim Walz in the Aug. 14 primary. Murphy is proposing uniform training requirements for police and a mandate that an investigator is assigned to every rape case.”

In case you had forgotten about this guy, Martin Moylan, also at MPR, writes, “A Minneapolis man jailed on charges of rape, assault and stalking made another court appearance Monday for a hearing on various pre-trial issues. Jerry Lee Curry, 52, is scheduled to go to trial Sept. 24 in what officials say was a horrendous abuse and neglect case. … DNA tests established that Curry had most likely fathered a child by one of his daughters.”

Yikes. From WCCO-TV: “Authorities say nobody was hurt but a grocery store sustained significant damage after a car plowed through its front door Monday night in Eden Prairie. Police responded to the crash Monday night at the Lunds and Byerlys at Plaza Drive and Prairie Center Drive. Police said nobody was injured in the crash, but the store had to close for the night.”

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Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by James Hamilton on 07/24/2018 - 10:09 am.

    “As Promised”

    I watched what I could of Bob Bennett’s labored presentation on behalf of he Ruszczyk family. Frankly, it’s hard to believe that the lawsuit is about anything other than money, given the amount claimed and the supposed grounds for that amount. Much of it is not available for recovery under Minnesota law, in that the damages are considered personal to Ms. Ruszcyk: her inability to marry, the pain she may have suffered in the time between being shot and dying, for example. Normally, we say that such damages do not survive the death of the person. Perhaps they do in a civil rights claim predicated on Federal law. I do not know. They should not be permitted or sought, in my opinion, particularly where the claimed intent is to “stop such senseless acts from happening again.”

    It should come as news to no one that much, if not all, of any recovery will be covered by a form of insurance or reinsurance. There likely will be no direct impact on any of the players except perhaps Mr. Noor. The rest of the individual defendants must be paid for by their employers, in this case the city in one capacity or another.

    Too, the civil rights laws are distorted by claims such as these. Why does the fact that a person was killed by a government employee raise the bar to this level? Is there some suggestion that Ms. Ruszcyk was killed because of her membership in a protected group or because of her beliefs? No. Is it because she was killed intentionally? Extremely unlikely. The only reason for casting this as a civil rights claim is to evade both the City’s limited liability under state law and the constraints on damages recoverable for wrongful death in Minnesota.

    Claim what you will. Just don’t ask me to believe it’s not for the money.

  2. Submitted by Jan Arnold on 07/24/2018 - 09:17 pm.

    Justine Ruszczyk

    The case was tragic, the shooter basically a rookie policeman who did not have “seasoning”. But what I have never understood, or have seen explained, is why was she in the alley, why did she go behind the police car and why did she slap the back of the car? Is this normal behavior in Australia?

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