NORTHGLENN, Colo. — The city of Northglenn said Tuesday that it settled a lawsuit regarding an officer-involved shooting for $8.75 million.
On Dec. 13, 2017, Northglenn Police Department officers tried to contact the driver and passenger of an allegedly stolen vehicle in the 10400 block of Franklin Way.
According to the city, the driver, Jeremy Patscheck, was asked to comply with instructions.
“Officers perceived that Mr. Patscheck drove in reverse toward officers and in response fired shots,” the city said in a statement.
Patscheck was pronounced dead at the scene. His passenger, Serina Minella, was paralyzed.
The 17th Judicial District Critical Incident Investigation Team investigated. In April 2018, based on the results of the investigation, District Attorney Dave Young said evidence did not support the filing of criminal charges against the officers.
The lawsuit was handled by outside attorneys retained by the city’s insurer.
“City elected officials and staff leadership agreed that a public trial would prolong the tragedy and serve no one well, especially the injured party facing significant medical needs and costs,” the city said.
“This is a tragic incident – a shooting, resulting in severe injury to a young woman and loss of life is never the outcome we hope for,” said NPD Chief Jim May in a statement. “Our hearts go out to the families, friends and all those associated or involved in this incident. My sincere hope is this offers some closure and supports the healing process for us all.”
The four officers involved are no longer with NPD. Three are no longer employed by the city; the fourth is in a civilian position.
The attorneys for Minella and the family of Patscheck say the settlement will bring them some closure, but it will not heal what happened.
Cliff Beem and his team have represented the two families since the shooting occurred.
“People look at an $8.25 million settlement for Serina and I know a lot of people are going to think that’s a windfall. The fact is, her medical bills to date are over $7 million and they are continuing to accrue,” said Beem.
Beem says Minella needs constant care just to survive.
“It has absolutely redefined what their life is,” said Danielle Beem, a member of the legal team.
As part of the settlement, $500,000 will go to Patscheck’s parents.
“That’s not anywhere near what would compensate them for what they’ve lost,” said Beem.
The lawsuit was filed in November and the city of Northglenn agreed to a settlement in late December. Cliff Beem says it may seem like a quick turnaround, but says they have been in negotiations with the city’s legal team for nearly two years.
Danielle Beem says one primary reason for the settlement is to prevent the families from going through a trial.
“Being in litigation and trying to produce claims has kept them in that moment for the last two years. They haven’t had the ability to move on from it, they haven’t had the ability to put it behind them,” she said.
The Patscheck family also continues to fight the perception that Jeremy was trying to back into police officers before he was shot. Cliff Beem and his team say that claim is false.
“Jeremy was a gentle young man. Jeremy had problems with alcohol and drugs like many young people do. But he had no history of violence and he was not a violent person,” said Birk Baumgartner, a member of the legal team.
Baumgartner says although this case is over, they hope it leads to greater conversation about holding law enforcement accountable.
“We need our city officials, our police chiefs to engage in a process of changing police behavior. It is not a good idea to rely on lawyers to sue them to change their behavior,” said Baumgartner.