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Two police settlements will cost City of Buffalo $515,000

A driver injured in 2008 when a police car – with lights flashing, but no siren – went through a stop sign and hit him is expected to get a $225,000 settlement from the City of Buffalo.

Timothy Monahan, now 48, was driving through the intersection of North Ogden and Vanderbilt streets in the Lovejoy section of Buffalo when the police cruiser went through the stop sign and smacked into the side of Monahan's vehicle, according to city attorneys.

The officer was on his way to an attempted suicide call and was driving about 40 mph through the intersection, city attorneys said.

Monahan was seriously injured, suffering leg and back injuries, the attorneys said. The officer was not injured.

The officer had the stop sign; Monahan did not, attorneys said.

The case was discussed during a Common Council committee meeting Thursday.

There are department protocols, city attorneys told council members, regarding officers driving through traffic signals. In this case, the attorneys said, the officer had his flashing lights on. But given that the officer did not have his siren on, and he did not slow down as he went through the stop sign, the Law Department recommends the Council approve a $225,000 settlement in the case, city attorneys said.

It is one of several settlements – totaling over $600,000 – expected to be approved when the Common Council meets Tuesday.

Among the other cases is a $290,000 settlement in a false arrest claim.

A jury in July awarded Justin Levy, now 28, $320,000 in the case dating back to January 2009.

But after city attorneys filed papers challenging the award, the two sides worked out a $290,000 settlement agreement that would vacate the judgement.

If the jury award was affirmed, city attorneys said, it could end up costing Buffalo $689,197 when other fees – including the city being required to pay for Levy's attorney costs – are included.

Levy was arrested in January 2009 at his aunt's home on Millicent Avenue. He said he went there after being called about a possible medical emergency.

A police officer at the scene said Levy interfered when officers attempted to get into the aunt's home to assist other officers already in the apartment, who were involved in a physical altercation with Levy's aunt. Levy denied that.

Levy was arrested on disorderly conduct and obstruction of justice charges.

Levy – who had no prior arrests, nor any subsequent ones – is African-American; the arresting officer is white. Levy's attorney argued Levy was arrested because he is black, a charge the city denied.

The charges against Levy were dismissed in court.

Other settlements expected to be approved Tuesday include $55,000 to Austin Gaylor, who was injured when a snow plow driver struck his car in December 2013. He had multiple surgeries on his hand because of the accident, according to city attorneys. The snow plow driver admitted to being drunk at the time and no longer works for the city.

Also expected to be approved is a $32,500 settlement to Margaretta Anderson, who was in her vehicle when it was hit by a fire truck making a left turn. Anderson suffered back injuries from the accident, city attorneys said.

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