Ferndale settles with victim of excessive force

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published September 21, 2016

 Former Ferndale police Officer Jason White allegedly can be seen on the right in a dashcam video hitting a 17-year-old whom he was arresting April 18. The Ferndale City Council approved a $150,000 settlement with the teen’s representation Sept. 12.

Former Ferndale police Officer Jason White allegedly can be seen on the right in a dashcam video hitting a 17-year-old whom he was arresting April 18. The Ferndale City Council approved a $150,000 settlement with the teen’s representation Sept. 12.

Still from video provided by Ferndale Police Department

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FERNDALE — The Ferndale City Council approved a settlement agreement with the representation of a teen who was, by the city’s determination, physically assaulted by his arresting officer in April.

The council approved unanimously settling to the tune of $150,000 with Albert Menifee, the “next friend” of a 17-year-old who was arrested in Ferndale for larceny from an automobile on April 18.

A next friend is a person who appears in court for someone else who can’t represent himself for one reason or another. In this case, it was because the teen was a minor.

During the teen’s arrest, former police officer Jason White was alleged to have used excessive force when dashcam footage showed that he began hitting and shoving the teen into the ground. Afterward, White was put on administrative leave while the department investigated the incident. White later resigned from the Ferndale Police Department on May 1 and was charged with assault and battery in June.

White’s case was sent to the 46th District Court in Southfield to avoid conflicts of interest. He pleaded no contest to the charge Sept. 9 and is scheduled for sentencing on Wednesday, Oct. 12. His attorney, Robert J. Morad, declined to comment until after sentencing.

After the city was sued because of White’s actions, Mayor Dave Coulter said the city met with the plaintiffs on Wednesday, Aug. 31, to have court facilitation and see if they could come up with some type of agreement.

“The result of that (facilitation) was a settlement agreement between the city and (the teen) for $150,000,” he said.

The city is paying for it out of its insurance fund.

Menifee and the teen’s attorney, Marcel S. Benavides, could not be reached for comment.

Coulter said that in any case when the city is sued or dealing with whether to settle, the city looks at what the cost would be to go to trial.

“In this case, we made the determination that the potential legal costs and the cost of going to trial could have been considerably more than this settlement,” he said.

But that wasn’t the only reason the city decided to settle the case, as city officials agreed that White used excessive force during the April 18 incident and felt that the teen deserved some compensation.

“We admitted that,” Coulter said. “The courts were likely to find some damages, so that would expend even more money on a trial. We view this as fair.”

As part of the settlement, the money will be held in a trust by the teen’s grandmother to be handed out at her discretion.

“We also appreciated the part of the settlement that requires him to complete specific educational requirements in order to receive any funds,” Coulter said. “We thought that the settlement would not be only fair to him, but would help this individual make sure that they stay out of the kind of situations that he got into with Officer White in the first place.”

It’s Coulter’s hope that the money used from the settlement will help the teen get on the straight and narrow, as he did plead guilty to the larceny he originally was arrested for, which was his fifth similar offense in two years.

“Not that that justifies the behavior of our officer, but this settlement does give us some hope that (the teen) will get the education and support he needs to get away from that life,” Coulter said.

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