Author: Rachel Barnhart
The city quietly paid $750,000 to a man who claimed an assault by police officers blinded him in one eye. The secret payment to Dudley Scott is revealed in the city’s checkbook registry obtained by Rochester for All through an open records request. The February check settling a lawsuit filed by Scott was made out to the city’s insurance company.
“It’s a system of opacity,” said Ted Forsyth, a member of the group Enough is Enough, an anti-police brutality organization working to create a police accountability board in Rochester. “The city is trying to keep as much of it under wraps as possible.”
Scott filed a federal lawsuit against the city in January 2017. He claimed officers pulled him over on Maple St. in August 2014. Scott claims officers repeatedly punched and kicked him while he was handcuffed and not resisting. The lawsuit doesn’t indicate whether Scott ever faced charges.
The lawsuit describes Scott’s alleged injuries. “The physical injuries included a concussion, permanent blindness in the right eye, unresolved by surgery; right orbital fractures; right retinal detachment, rupture of the right eyeball (“globe”); multiple intraocular injuries including rupture of the choroid; extensive internal hemorrhage, permanently diminished vision in the left eye; and multiple contusions and abrasions.”
The city denied Scott’s claims in responding papers. A judge denied the city’s motion to dismiss all of Scott’s claims.
Scott’s attorney said he and his client cannot discuss the case.
“I would love to speak with you. However, under the terms of the settlement Dudley and I are prohibited from discussing the case,” said David Johns.
“There are so many cases that the public doesn’t know about,” Forsyth said. “(Settlements) don’t get at the underlying root causes of where these lawsuits stem from – misconduct of officers.”
Scott’s brother, Septimus Scott, has a pending federal lawsuit against Rochester police. In the lawsuit filed in June 2017, he claims he was pulled over by Rochester police in May 2015 and accused of driving drunk. Septimus Scott said he was the designated driver for his friends, and the police were not able to administer the breathalyzer because it malfunctioned. Septimus Scott claims police used excessive force during his arrest. He was charged with driving while intoxicated, resisting arrest, driving the wrong way on a one-way street and driving without a license. After spending seven weeks in jail, the charges were dropped.
Septimus Scott’s attorney says he is an Iraq war veteran who suffered a leg injury and has PTSD.
A judge denied the city’s motion to dismiss all of Septimus Scott’s claims. The case will be in court in February for a status conference. All discovery is to be completed by March.
About this project:
The City of Rochester has a budget exceeding $550 million. Much of that spending takes place out of the public view. There are no line items in the annual budget book for expenditures such as catered lunches or baseball tickets. City Council doesn’t vote on all business grants and loans. The spending also reveals settlements that are not made public.
A good way to examine spending is to obtain the city checkbook registry. Through open records requests, we analyzed the city’s checkbook registries.