Monday, April 6

LA judge, UC reach $500,000 settlement over $10M damages claim against UCPD

The original version of this article and the headline accompanying it contained information that was unclear and have been changed. See the bottom of the article for more information.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge reached a $500,000 settlement with the University of California over a $10 million claim for damages he filed against university police in February in which he said two UCPD officers used excessive force after stopping him in Westwood for a seatbelt violation.

The settlement includes a $150,000 payment to Judge David S. Cunningham III and his counsel, and the setup of a $350,000 scholarship fund called “The David S. Cunningham III Scholarship for Civil Rights” for undergraduate and law students, according to a statement by the university and Cunningham’s lawyer released on Friday. The fund will be administered by the UCLA Black Alumni Association.

As part of the agreement, UCPD must also hold continued trainings for officers on issues such as “understanding diversity, bias, public engagement and use of force.”

Cunningham filed an excessive force complaint in November after being pulled over by two UCPD officers, Kevin Dodd and James Kim, who allegedly shoved Cunningham against the side of his car, handcuffed him and put him in the back of their patrol car for not wearing a seatbelt.

The statement from UCPD said police officers handcuffed Cunningham after he refused to enter his car. Photographs sent to The Bruin in November appeared to show visible cuts and bruises on Cunningham’s hands and arm.

Cunningham’s lawyer, Carl Douglas, said he thinks race played a role in the way the officers interacted with Cunningham, who is black.

“I am very careful before lobbing the explosive allegation of racism, but in this case I am left with no other conclusion than the realization that David would have been treated far, far differently had he been a white judge,” Douglas told The Bruin in November.

Cunningham is also the former president of the Los Angeles Police Commission.

In February, Douglas filed the $10 million claim against the University on Cunningham’s behalf.

The UCLA School of Law will hold a one-day Community Forum/Day of Dialogue conference to promote discussion about the relationship between police and the community, focusing on diversity, bias and racial profiling, among other topics.

Cunningham’s traffic citation was also dismissed as part of the settlement.

In the statement, the university and Cunningham’s lawyer said the incident is an opportunity to improve police-community relations.

“Both parties are eager to use this as a teachable moment that provides greater insight into important issues, increased educational opportunities and improved relations between law enforcement and the public,” the statement said.

Cunningham filed a separate excessive force complaint against university police in November on the day he was pulled over.

The university sent a letter to Cunningham in February notifying him that UCPD fully investigated his complaint but did not find sufficient evidence to sustain his allegations.

Read the full settlement below.

Compiled by Sam Hoff, Bruin senior staff.

Clarification: Cunningham and the UC reached a settlement for $500,000.

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