How much is peace of mind worth to you? Collinsville's insurance company just paid $100,000 to Ohio filmmaker Terrance Huff and his friend "to merely avoid litigation and buy their peace." The two claimed in a lawsuit that they were unlawfully detained by police officer Michael Reichert and the car searched for drugs on their way home from a Star Trek exhibit in St. Louis. The stop lasted about an hour; no drugs were found and no tickets issued.
Even considering legal costs, $100,000 to make a lawsuit go away is pretty steep. The agreement says the city admits no liability, but the amount suggests that maybe the insurance company feared it couldn't win.
Unfortunately, by settling, the public is left to wonder about the handling of this particular stop and traffic stops in general. Was this an anomaly, or standard procedure?
City leaders need to ask and answer those questions to ensure that officers are respecting motorists' civil rights.
The insurance company and the taxpayers couldn't afford much more of this pricey peace of mind.