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City of Austin to pay $99K to settle excessive force lawsuit

The City will pay $99,000 to plaintiff Michael Yeager, who said he was falsely arrested after being robbed and suffered lacerations that required 27 stitches.

AUSTIN, Texas — The City of Austin has agreed to settle a lawsuit by a California man who was taken to the ground by a police officer in 2018 in Downtown Austin.

The City will pay $99,000 to plaintiff Michael Yeager, who said he was falsely arrested after being robbed and suffered lacerations that required 27 stitches, as well as a concussion, separated shoulder, broken nose and fractured thumb. The money will come out of the City’s liability reserve and was approved in a 10-1 city council vote on Thursday, with Councilmember Mackenzie Kelly voting no.

Yeager, who was living in San Antonio at the time, was charged at the time with evading arrest and taken to the Travis County Jail. That charge was later dropped.

The officer accused in the lawsuit, Dusty Jester, was not charged over the incident, according to KVUE’s media partners at the Austin American-Statesman. Two other officers, Timothy Skeen and Bradley Hoover, were accused in an amended lawsuit of not intervening in Jester’s attack, with Hoover reportedly deploying a Taser and delivering two to three knee strikes to Yeager’s ribs.

"This was a situation in which APD supervisors had signed off on blatantly unconstitutional conduct," Yeager's lawyer, Jeff Edwards, told the Statesman. "It is the sincere hope of Mr. Yeager and my law firm that the City and the new leadership of the Austin Police Department will reexamine the way their officers evaluate misconduct."

RELATED: Lawsuit claims Austin officer attacked, falsely arrested man who had been robbed

The City’s legal department recommended the settlement amount, the Statesman reported. The city charter requires the city council to approve any settlement of more than $66,000.

A City spokesperson told KVUE: “While we are not in a position to discuss the specifics of this case, the City routinely seeks to resolve all disputes in an appropriate and timely manner. City Council action to approve the settlement is part of that process.”

Yeager’s lawyers said he was in town with his girlfriend in November 2018 to watch a Texas Longhorns football game. While they were waiting at a stoplight on the Interstate Highway 35 frontage road, several men robbed him and his girlfriend.

As Yeager was explaining to an officer what happened, the lawsuit claimed Jester began sprinting directly at him and tackled him to the ground.

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