Colorado Springs City Council continues secret settlements; legislators call foul

The Gazette (Colorado Springs): The Colorado Springs City Council recently approved a $160,000 settlement to an Army veteran suffering from post traumatic stress after he was rousted from his home by a tactical police team, tear gas and explosives.

The team’s midnight blast in May 2012 shattered every window in Ronald Brown’s home in southeast Colorado Springs, flung fragments of wood into his leg and broke his left shin bone, according to a 2014 lawsuit he filed against the city claiming police used excessive force.

But none of these details or Brown’s payout were publicly discussed last month at City Hall when the council agreed behind closed doors to settle the lawsuit.

Brown’s closed-door settlement is one of many. The approval reportedly came the day The Gazette previously reported that the council has doled out about $5.4 million in secret meetings to settle a string of cases including racial and gender discrimination. And it came after multiple council members expressed their unease with the process for settling high-dollar cases and said they want to make a change.

The closed-door practice continues at the behest of City Attorney Wynetta Massey, who is urging the council to stay the course until a formal code change can take place, City Council President Richard Skorman said.

“If what we are doing is legal, the essence was we will continue to do that until we come up with the better plan,” Councilman Don Knight said, summarizing Massey’s rationale. “But we still want the better plan sooner rather than later.”

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