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Federal judge slashes jury award in illegal-search lawsuit

MILWAUKEE (AP) — A federal judge has slashed a jury’s award from over $500,000 to just $60,000 in an illegal-search lawsuit against the Milwaukee Police Department.

The jury found in August that two officers violated Leo Hardy’s civil rights in 2012 by searching him without sufficient reason and wrongfully arresting him for resisting. It awarded $500,000 in punitive damages and $6,000 in compensatory damages.

In an order Friday, U.S. District Judge J.P. Stadtmueller said the officers’ actions were “reprehensible.” But he wrote that case law generally requires a single-digit ration between the amount of compensatory and punitive damages.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that more than 60 people have sued the department alleging illegal searches, and four officers convicted in connection with illegal strip and cavity searches have been forced to resign.

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