VALLEY CITY, N.D. — A $325,000 settlement has been reached in a civil lawsuit brought by the family of a Valley City man who died after being arrested by Valley City police in May 2018, according to Fargo attorney Cash Aaland, who represented the family of Warren Lindvold in the suit.
Lindvold, 72, died in a Fargo hospital several days after his arrest on suspicion of drunken driving.
According to a federal lawsuit brought by Lindvold's family, Lindvold died of a broken neck after being arrested on July 15, 2018.
The suit alleged a long list of civil rights violations by Valley City police and the Barnes County Jail, including that two Valley City police officers were aware Lindvold had a type of arthritis that limited his mobility and which may have made him appear intoxicated.
The suit also claimed the officers used excessive force during the arrest and that they displayed indifference to Lindvold's medical needs before he was taken to the Barnes County Jail.
The settlement, which does not include an admission of liability by any of the defendants, is to be paid by the North Dakota Insurance Reserve Fund on behalf of Valley City, Barnes County and two police officers.
In a video of Lindvold's arrest, he can be heard telling police: "Please, I beg you. I'm in constant pain here." At another point in the video he can be heard to utter the words: "Let me die. Uff da."
Aaland said he hopes that the settlement, which has yet to be formalized, will be viewed by law enforcement agencies as a cautionary tale regarding how they physically handle suspects, particularly those of advanced age or who are suffering from medical conditions.
"Warren was an elderly person and pain compliance was used on him," Aaland said. "I hope and the family hopes that by bringing these facts to light officers will think a little longer before they use those maneuvers on an elderly person."
"Money wasn't the issue," he added. "The family wanted this matter brought forward because they felt Warren's death was unnecessary."
In a written statement, Carl Martineck, city attorney for Valley City, said civil litigation decisions are often made for economic reasons prior to any finding on the merits of the case.
"In the 17 months since the lawsuit was filed, the city has strongly defended the professionalism of Sgt. Wade Hannig and Officer Christopher Olson," Martineck said in the statement, adding that the Valley City Police Department continues to have the full support of city officials.
He said Hannig remains employed by the department "along with 13 other officers who proudly protect and serve the citizens of Valley City for little reward and often under great pressure."
Martineck said Officer Olson is now with the North Dakota Highway Patrol.