City of Springfield settles with Melvin Jones III for $575,000
Posted: 09/05/2012 2:50 PM
SPRINGFIELD -- The city has reached a $575,000 settlement in federal court with Melvin Jones III, a black motorist beaten by a former police officer during a 2009 traffic stop, an attorney for the city said Wednesday.
John Liebel, a lawyer for the city, said the settlement was made public today and followed a two-day mediation in U.S. District Court before Magistrate Judge Kenneth P. Neiman. Jones sued the city and police for civil rights violations, negligence and assault.
"It was a good settlement because it was less money than the plaintiffs wanted and more money than what the defendants wanted to pay," Liebel said. "This was a significant expenditure for the city, but in light of the multi-million dollar exposure we faced, had the case gone to trial, and the fact that it was a divisive matter in the community, the city felt it had to put this case behind them."
He added that the payment was split into two components: $275,000 to a structured settlement company and $300,000 to Jones' lawyers.
The Jones beating by former police officer Jeffrey M. Asher -- who was convicted of assault in connection with the incident and sentenced to 18 months in jail -- was caught on amateur video.
Jones has also had a string of legal problems including separate arrests for shoplifting, domestic assault and cocaine trafficking. Jones is being held behind bars without bail in connection with the drug and domestic assault charges.