The city will be paying a Lincoln couple almost $54,000 in a settlement to a lawsuit that alleged police kicked them out of their house and damaged their house during a search.
City Attorney Jeff Kirkpatrick said he could not provide any information about the mediated settlement reported to the City Council beyond a two-sentence email response.
“The parties have reached a settlement in the matter, and the City of Lincoln has extended an apology to David Tarrence and Tamara Geis for the events that occurred at their residence on April 15, 2014. The settlement amount is $53,750.00.”
Tarrence and Geis had filed a tort claim with the city in 2015 seeking $2.7 million. The City Council denied that claim on the advice of the city attorney, and the couple filed the civil lawsuit against the city and Lancaster County.
In the lawsuit they alleged police kicked them out of their home, cut into a safe in the basement and seized nearly a quarter of a million dollars in cash, coins and guns, believing it was related to a sibling’s drug sales.
The money was Tarrence’s life savings, according to the lawsuit.
The police detained the couple outside the home for several hours while they got a search warrant. And they left the home full of carbon monoxide and destroyed several carbon monoxide detectors in the home “as if they were struck with police batons, as opposed to taking the more logical step of removing the batteries,” according to the initial lawsuit.
Police were acting on a Crime Stoppers tip that Tarrence’s brother was involved in drug sales and had hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash in a safe at this house, according to information in a court order related to the civil suit.
Neither Tarrence nor Geis was charged with any criminal offense in connection with the search of the house, according to court documents.
The brother, Greg Tarrence, was found not guilty of conspiracy in a U.S. District Court in Lincoln, but did plead guilty and was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for possessing marijuana with intent to distribute. He denied his brother’s safe had anything to do with the crime.
In an August summary judgment, U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf held that the lawsuit could move forward on several issues, including a potential warrantless seizure of the house, a Fourth Amendment false arrest claim, a warrantless search claim and damage to carbon monoxide detectors and coins and guns in the safe.
David Tarrence has had other conflicts with the city. In 2011 city staff put no parking signs on E Street in response to him parking his moving company trucks so the company name and telephone number could be seen by motorists on Capitol Parkway.