The City of Burlington and a former police officer has settled with a Richmond man who accused the officer of violating his rights during a routine traffic stop, according to a Burlington Free Press report. Michael Mullen will receive $100,000 as part of the settlement, although the attorney for former officer Christopher Lopez said he was “not at liberty to say” how much of that sum his client would pay.
Burlington City Attorney Eileen Blackwood indicated that the city’s insurance company paid the $100,000, but the city would likely pay them a deductible – which would come from the city general fund. She did not now much that deductible would be.
The suit stems from an October 2016 traffic stop during which Lopez claimed in a written affidavit he had smelled the odor of cannabis coming from Mullen’s vehicle. Mullen was arrested on felony drug possession and spent four months in jail while the case played out. During a review of Lopez’s body camera footage, lawyers heard him tell a fellow officer that he didn’t smell anything, but he wanted probable cause to conduct a search because “something doesn’t feel right.” According to the report, officials said that Lopez had though he turned off his camera – allowed during on-scene conferences between officers – but had not.
David Bond, Mullen’s attorney, called the case “pretty clear-cut.”
“They recognized they had liability,” he said in the report. “Rather than test the worth of the case through a jury trial, my client was willing to accept a settlement at this time.”
Mullen’s case, along with 15 other criminal cases in which Lopez was involved, have been dismissed. While criminal charges, such as perjury, have not yet been filed against Lopez, Assistant Attorney John Treadwell has indicated the case remains under review.