A federal excessive force lawsuit against two UW-Madison police officers will be dismissed under a settlement agreement reached Wednesday between state lawyers and local marijuana activist Ben Masel.
Under the settlement, Masel agreed to dismiss his excessive force claim against Officers Michael Mansavage and John McCaughtry and the state agreed to pay Masel $7,500 to prevent an appeal of a judge's dismissal of a free speech claim against the university, said Corey Finkelmeyer, director of the civil litigation unit at the state Department of Justice, which represents the officers.
The case was scheduled to go to trial June 7. Masel had alleged that Mansavage and McCaughtry used more force than was necessary to arrest Masel for trespassing at the Memorial Union in June 2006.
The trial was to be a retrial of the same case, which ended with a hung jury in January 2009.
At the time of the 2006 incident, Masel was collecting signatures near the Union Terrace to get on the ballot to run against U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, a Democrat. Masel was arrested after he refused to leave the area when Union event managers had told him he was violating a policy that limits political activity by non-Union members to the Union's front sidewalk.
Masel's lawsuit also alleged that UW and Union officials infringed upon his First Amendment right to free speech.
U.S. District Judge John Shabaz dismissed Masel's free speech claim in December 2007.
Finkelmeyer said he believes that Shabaz's decision would have survived an appeal by Masel, but that the state looked at the $7,500 payment as a "business decision" to stop the appeal.
Masel said Thursday that he couldn't discuss the settlement until it was finalized in court. His attorney, Jeff Scott Olson, is on vacation and could not be reached for comment.