The city of Philadelphia paid Mayor John Street's gay liaison $15,000 to drop a police brutality lawsuit he filed after being arrested in a 2001 scuffle with officers inside a restaurant, according to a published report. Michael S. Hinson filed his lawsuit even after the police department told him he would not have to appear in court and asked prosecutors to drop charges stemming from the altercation, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported in Tuesday editions.
Barbara Grant, a spokeswoman for Street, said police sought to drop charges because "they needed to correct their own error." A statement from the city's law department said the suit was settled to avoid "the expense and the inconvenience of further litigation."
In his lawsuit Hinson alleged that police officers shoved him to the ground inside a downtown restaurant early on December 31, 2001. Police responded to Sam's Clam Bar, where Hinson had been waiting in line with a friend, upon learning that a man had fired a gunshot inside the restaurant. Hinson was arrested in an ensuing confrontation with police. A written statement prepared by Deputy City Solicitor Jeffrey M. Scott accused Hinson of interfering with a crime scene and asserting authority.
"Mr. Hinson acted in such a way to cause a crowd to gather and disrupt the crime scene," the statement read. "As a result of Mr. Hinson's alleged unlawful behavior, he was arrested and charged with a summary offense." The officers were cleared of wrongdoing by a police Internal Affairs Bureau review of the incident.
Hinson, who denied interfering with police, alleged in his lawsuit that an officer deliberately shoved a glass door against him even though he had obeyed police orders and left the restaurant. Photographs taken after the incident show Hinson with a bump on his cheekbone and a cut on his wrist from handcuffs.