JoCo mom reaches legal settlement with City of Mission after arrest caught on dashcam video

MISSION, Kan. - The City of Mission has agreed to a confidential settlement with an Overland Park woman who sued after a police dashcam video captured her controversial arrest.

Catrina Engle’s arrest in March 2013 outside a Mission post office became highly-publicized after her husband posted it on YouTube.

The video showed two police officers push Engle to the parking lot pavement and put her in handcuffs.

The police had received a call from postal employees, who said Engle was yelling obscenities in the lobby and throwing rocks in a mail slot.

Engle’s side of the story: she was trying to mail packages at a self-serve kiosk and having an argument with her husband on the phone. Meantime, her young daughters were running throughout the lobby and responsible for the rock episode.

Engle filed a federal civil suit against the police officers, the police chief and the City of Mission. She argued the police had violated her constitutional rights, conducted an invasive search along a busy road, and emotionally traumatized her kids, who watched the incident from the family minivan.

The lawsuit asked for $1.75 million in compensatory damages and $1.75 million in punitive damages.

The parties quietly reached the confidential settlement in June. Engle declined an interview with 41 Action News, saying she is ready to move on.

“Catrina Engle hopes her pursuit of the claims asserted in the lawsuit will force all cities and law enforcement to learn they must consider and respect the rights of all citizens with whom they interact, especially those who have been accused of some wrongdoing without any proof presented to police other than another person’s word,” read a statement from Engle’s attorney, Andy Protzman. “The trauma of these events has taken a toll on the family, and they look forward to focusing on the healing process and moving on with their lives.”

Engle already won a legal victory last November, when she successfully appealed convictions of disorderly conduct and interfering with an officer. Both parties said they were legally bound from discussing details of the settlement.

Mission’s mayor and city administrator referred calls to legal counsel. A secretary told 41 Action News the attorney was out of the office all week.

Rafe Foreman, a law professor at UMKC, said both sides are likely obligated to confidentiality because of terms agreed to with the city’s insurance company.

Foreman, who has extensive background with lawsuits against police departments, said it is likely taxpayers are only on the hook for the policy deductible (plus any premium increase when a policy is renewed).

The law professor said insurance companies don’t want dollar amounts disclosed to prevent motivation for other people to file lawsuits.

“If I’m sitting at home watching the news and see that someone got $100,000, and I’ve had an encounter with a police officer that I think was worse, I’m probably going to call a lawyer,” Foreman said.

However, Foreman said he is a big advocate of municipalities demanding transparency so taxpayers can get a full picture of any legal settlements.

Ryan Kath can be reached at ryan.kath@kshb.com. You can also follow him on Twitter or connect on Facebook.
 

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