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Milwaukee Settlement: $5 Million to End Case Alleging MPD Illegally Strip Searched Black Men

endymion120, flickr

Lawyers for 74 African American men and the Milwaukee City Attorney have agreed to a five-million dollar settlement over allegations that members of the Milwaukee Police Department conducted unconstitutional strip and body cavity searches of the men.

Under the arrangement, they will share $2.7 million in compensation, while their attorneys will get $2.3 million. The deal will end 14 federal lawsuits the men had filed against the city alleging members of the MPD engaged in an unwritten policy of conducting unlawful searches of black men from 2008-2012. 

Four former officers, including Michael Vagnini, were convicted of related charges, Vagnini was also convicted of misconduct and conducting illegal strip searches.

The city has denied liability, yet City Attorney Grant Langley says the $5 million settlement is in Milwaukee's best interests when considering potential damages. The Common Council and Mayor Tom Barrett must still approve the deal, which is expected to happen in January.

According to the plaintiffs' lawyers, the case represents the largest number of civil rights claimants in a police misconduct settlement against the City of Milwaukee. The legal team reports questioning 50 MPD officers, Chief Edward Flynn and former Chief Nanette Hegerty.

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