The Associated Press
SAN JOSE, California- A California county will pay nearly $1 million (euro840,000) to settle a lawsuit brought by the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club after police shot and killed three guard dogs during raids of the group's headquarters and suspected members' homes, according to a media report Tuesday.The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors approved the $990,000 (euro826,860) settlement in a closed session Monday, the San Francisco Chronicle daily reported. The decision came two months after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the county's arguments that sheriff's deputies should be immune from liability in the case.
The San Jose Police Department also was named in the suit because its officers shot the dogs, but the city hasn't worked out an agreement with club members. City Attorney Rick Doyle told the paper the case may go to trial.
Lower court judges ruled that actions of the deputies and San Jose police officers during the January 1998 were unreasonable, most of the evidence obtained was unnecessary and the officers did nothing to avoid killing the animals. A lawyer for club members says a lot of property was destroyed in the raids and some evidence was kept for more than a year.
Ninety officers raided the club's San Jose headquarters and nine homes of suspected members to gather evidence against suspected member Steve Tausan who was being held on murder charges in connection with an August 1997 killing at a strip club.
Tausan was acquitted of all counts in 1999 after arguing the killing was in self-defense.
The settlement with the county includes $530,000 (euro442,663) in attorney's fees and $460,000 (euro384,198) to be divided among 15 people including eight current or former Hells Angels members, six spouses or significant others and one friend of a member.
Officers from the cities of Santa Clara and Gilroy also were involved in the raids, and those cities settled their cases several years ago for a total of less than $50,000, (euro41,761) the plaintiffs' lawyer told the Chronicle.
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