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Craig Strand after his arrest in May 2013

Merrillville pays $375,000 to settle civil lawsuit against police officer

Contributed By:The 411 News

Strand argues civil rights were violated when he was shot by officer in 2013

The Town of Merrillville has made a $375,000 payment to settle a civil suit against a Merrillville police officer and the town said Atty. Darnail Lyles, who filed the law suit for his client Craig Strand.

Merrillville’s Town Manager Pat Reardon and Chief of Police Joseph Petruch did not respond to a request for comment.

The civil suit arose from the May 20, 2013 incident involving Strand, a truck driver from Oregon and his arrest by Curtis Minchuk, the Merrillville policeman. That day, Officer Minchuk was working security at the Planned Parenthood office in Merrillville when he saw Strand’s semitrailer in the company’s parking lot.

The driver wasn’t present and Officer Minchuk placed 2 tickets on the truck. When the truck driver, Strand, returned and saw the tickets, his objections to Minchuk turned into a fist fight. Officer Minchuk shot Strand in the stomach.

Strand was charged with disarming a law enforcement officer, battery resulting in bodily injury and resisting law enforcement. A Lake County Criminal Court jury convicted Strand in August 2014 of battery resulting in bodily injury, but acquitted him of the other charges. He was sentenced to 20 months in prison.

In his testimony, Strand said Planned Parenthood gave him permission to park, but Minchuk had no interest in hearing his side. The driver said the fight ended with both men on the ground. Strand said he stood up, telling the officer, “I’m through. I surrender.” A few seconds later, Minchuk shot him.

Minchuk testified he was on the ground and feared for his life. Minchuk said Strand was approaching and he pulled his gun.

The federal civil lawsuit came in April 2015, while Strand was still incarcerated and asked for a $3 million settlement. The officer violated his civil rights by using excessive force, Strand argued. A few months later in August 2015, an Indiana Court of Appeals panel denied Strand’s argument of excessive force.

In November 2018, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the civil law suit could proceed to trial. According to the docket report of Indiana’s Northern District federal court in Hammond, the case was terminated last month, September 19.

Story Posted:10/04/2019

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