Update, 1/15: Judge Indira Talwani approved the settlement.
A Faneuil Street couple today formally signed off on a settlement in their suit against Boston and several BPD officers who smashed their door down with a battering ram in the middle of the night and then cuffed them and their 15-year-old daughter as their other two children - 4 and 5 - watched, in a raid that was supposed to be aimed at somebody who lived in the apartment next door.
The deal, reached last week, but filed today in US District Court in Boston, still needs a judge's approval. In the proposed settlement, Boston said it "expressly denies any wrongdoing" or any "alleged unlawful conduct" and that it agreed to the settlement only because the amount is less than it would cost to go to trial.
It's the second public-safety court settlement Boston has agreed to this week. WBZreports the city reached a $3.2-millon settlement with a woman firefighter who charged she had been harassed and sexually assaulted on the job.
In the Faneuil Street case, Jean and Regis Verlande and their three children were asleep at 4:30 a.m. on Nov. 27, 2018 when drug detectives, armed with a "no knock" warrant allowing them to bust in without announcing themselves, smashed down their door - rather than the door of the apartment their warrant was meant for.
According to a summary of the case in a ruling by Judge Indira Talwani last year, about a dozen drug-unit cops then swarmed into the apartment:
The officers forcibly entered the Regis's home in spite of the fact that their front door was conspicuously marked with their apartment number, which differed from the apartment number listed on the warrant.
Once inside, the officers first encountered Verlande Regis after she leapt from her bed upon hearing the sound of the door being broken down. The officers pointed their weapons at Verlande Regis, pushed her to the ground, and handcuffed her. While she was laying on the floor, several officers stepped on her and injured her hand. The officers then encountered Jean Regis as he lay in bed. An officer pointed his weapon at Jean Regis, ordered him out of bed, and handcuffed him with his arms behind his back. Because the Regis's four- and five-year-old children had been sleeping inside their parents' bedroom, the children witnessed their parents being restrained and handcuffed.
The officers also encountered the Regis's 15-year-old daughter. When M attempted to open her bedroom door, she was shoved back into her room by an officer's shield. An officer also aimed his weapon at M, ordered her to the floor, and handcuffed her with her arms behind her back.
Although none of the Regis family members matched the description of the intended target set forth in the search warrant, and none of the occupants resisted during the officers' intrusion into their home, the officers kept Jean Regis, Verlande Regis, and M handcuffed and lying on the floor for approximately 20 minutes. One of the officers then told the family and the other officers that they had entered the wrong apartment.
Talwani's ruling was to reject city's request to have the case thrown out because of a principle that holds cities harmless for the actions of its employees. Talwani said that cities can be sued for failing to properly train their employees and that the Regises had made a substantial enough case of that to go to a jury. For example, Talwani said, they provided proof BPD never trained its officers to double check apartment numbers or addresses before busting down somebody's door, or to check occupants' names with those on their warrants.
If approved by a judge, Boston would issue five checks for $100,000 apiece for the parents and their children.