WATCH: Wisconsin Settles Excessive Force Lawsuit For $50,000

MADISON, Wisconsin — An excessive force lawsuit an African American woman brought against the city of Superior and three police officers involved in her arrest, was recently settled out of court for $50,000, said Police Chief Nicholas Alexander.

Attorneys for Natasha N. Lancour, the insurer for the officers and the city reached an agreement and informed a federal magistrate Oct. 3, who dismissed the case set for trial Oct. 31.

In a phone interview Wednesday, Alexander said the case represented a “difficult time for everyone.”

“For Natasha, Officer (George) Gothner, our department, but it is nice to find resolution, move forward and continue our efforts to run an open and transparent department,” Alexander said.

Lancour’s attorneys Richard Gondik Jr. and Peter Nickitas did not return phone calls seeking to discuss the case. Greg Gunta, attorney for the city’s insurer, Cities and Villages Mutual Insurance also had not called back by deadline.

Lancour, 31, of Superior filed suit in Douglas County Circuit Court months after her Jan. 5, 2014, arrest outside Keyport Liquor and Lounge.

In the suit, Lancour alleged that:

* Officer George Gothner used excessive force when apprehending her;

* Sgt. William Lear and Officer Sean Holmgren failed to come to her aid when Gothner used excessive force against her;

* Lear, Gothner and Holmgren falsified reports to cover up their wrongdoing and support false charges against her.

Video from a squad dash camera showed Gothner shoving Lancour onto the hood of the squad and striking her with a closed fist as she reached toward his face and tried to pull away.

The video has been uploaded to the YouTube website.

Lancour was charged with disorderly conduct but the case was dismissed in November 2014 on a motion by District Attorney Daniel Blank.

Gothner was suspended for one day for using vulgarities during the arrest, but was cleared of excessive force after a state and internal review of the incident.

Bayfield County District Attorney Fred Bourg reviewed the state’s investigation of the arrest and declined to charge anyone in connection with it, finding there was insufficient evidence to bring charges.

However, Bourg did say “there was ample evidence” that Gothner’s actions brought “disrepute to his police agency” and “were rude, in poor taste, and possibly, unnecessarily violent.”

Attorneys for the city’s insurer denied the suit’s allegations and claimed that some of Lancour’s account of the arrest was untruthful. Also, Gothner was acting in self-defense and used only the force necessary to lawfully arrest Lancour.

The city’s insurer moved the case to federal court last year. In June 2016, co-plaintiffs, Brody, Braylon and Denali Lancour, Eimony Conito and David Doherty, who witnessed the arrest or had claims against the city related to the arrest, were dismissed from the suit.

Lancour alone was allowed to continue the suit but many of her claims, which originally included excessive force, falsifying reports, failure of officers to intervene, false arrest, negligent hiring, training and supervision of officers, and emotional distress also had been dismissed.

Alexander reiterated that neither Lear nor Holmgren had been disciplined as a result of Lancour’s arrest, and the three officers remained employed with the department.

Departmental training is frequently re-evaluated, Alexander said, but no changes were implemented specifically in response to Lancour’s arrest. However, a program is under development to improve the communication officers use to de-escalate confrontations with the public.

“We’re also working with the (University of Wisconsin-Superior)…in the area of cultural awareness … Whether there are unconscious biases we could have, and how to use different strategies so all members of the community, regardless of race, sex or background, are treated the same way — with fairness and dignity,” he said.