Georgia taxpayers will be shelling out almost three-quarters of a million dollars for the wrongful arrests (malicious prosecution) of some Morrow restaurant workers, reports the Fulton Daily Report. And it's not the first time that this officer has cost the taxpayers to open their wallets:
The city of Morrow has paid $700,000 to settle a malicious prosecution suit stemming from a midnight police raid during which a restaurant manager and her fiancé, an attorney, were handcuffed and jailed for nearly three days after being charged with nearly two dozen code violations.
The citations were all eventually dismissed but the raid, part of an alleged "campaign of harassment" against Cheerleaders Sports Café, was successful: The club never reopened following the arrests.
The settlement, reached late last year, was the last of three involving a now-departed police detective whose flawed arrests cost the city's insurer at least $950,000. One of the other two cases settled for $250,000, and another case—in which the insurer represented the officer, not the city—settled confidentially.
Police generally enjoy something called "qualified immunity" which means they are personally immune from most suits. When they have to pay, it's not the police officers themselves that pay up; it's the taxpayer. Thus, police have little personal incentive to behave. They have "no skin in the game," to put it another way. Some sort of limited liability for wrongdoing - even if capped at a single year's salary - would probably work to reduce problems like this case and save taxpayers millions of dollars.
At least one federal circuit has stepped in the right direction.