City of Woodbury agrees to settlement terms in 2012 police shooting
This story was updated April 16 to include further settlement terms and attorney statements.
The city of Woodbury has agreed to settlement terms in a civil lawsuit brought by Tawana Henderson, the mother of Mark Henderson, a St. Paul man shot and killed by three Woodbury police officers in 2012.
Henderson and her attorneys will receive $1,487,548.68 under the terms of the settlement, said Joseph Flynn, an attorney for the city. The money will be paid through the city’s coverage with the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust.
Although the city has agreed to the terms, it has yet to be finalized contingent on federal judge approval.
"While the city believes it could have prevailed at trial, it faced a lengthy and expensive trial that could have resulted in an unknown verdict along with potential payment of Ms. Henderson’s attorneys’ fees. Thus, the city chose to settle the case," Flynn said in a statement.
J. Ashwin Madia represented Tawana Henderson in the lawsuit.
"Ms. Henderson continues to mourn the loss of her son. This lawsuit was a long and trying journey," Madia said. "We're grateful that she had the courage and strength to see it through. We hope that Mark's death and this lawsuit will help bring needed and lasting change and improvement in officer training."
The terms of the settlement included the dismissal of charges against officers Natalie Bauer, Stacey Krech and Anthony Ofstead with prejudice without cost to any party, according to documents filed April 10. “Dismissed with prejudice” means the charges are dismissed permanently.
"Under the terms of the settlement, the city and the officers make no admission of fault or liability," Flynn said. "The City of Woodbury maintains that its officers acted appropriately and responsibly in this incident. Maintaining safety and the protection of our residents are among the core values of our city."
Bauer, Krech and Ofstead are all currently employed with Woodbury Public Safety, police commander John Altman said.
The settlement follows a November 2018 decision by the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stating a jury trial should determine the outcome of the lawsuit filed by Henderson. That decision reversed a previous ruling by a U.S. District Court judge following a February 2017 appeal in the case.
The lawsuit alleged wrongful death, excessive force and indifference of the civil rights of Mark Henderson.
Henderson, 19, was one of several people attending a party at the Red Roof Inn in Woodbury in 2012 when another man, Demetrius Ballinger, pulled out a gun, robbed the guests and held them hostage. Henderson ran from the motel room and was initially fired at by officers, after which they said he dropped to the ground. But after seeing movement from his right arm and torso, they said, the officers fired at him 17 more times. Henderson was struck by 12 bullets and died shortly after.