A former Metro Transit police officer who was caught on video asking a light rail passenger about his immigration status received a $50,000 settlement.
Officer Andy Lamers, who was working part time, voluntarily resigned nearly two weeks after the May incident.
The department has since changed its policy so that officers are not allowed to ask a suspect about their immigration status.
According to the settlement signed in July by Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb, Lamers was awarded a lump-sum payment of $33,650 after taxes were deducted.
The settlement requires both Lamers and the Metropolitan Council, which runs Metro Transit, to surrender any further claims or suits.
“This came about as a way for us to be able get on with our work,” said Metro Transit spokesperson Howie Padilla on Wednesday. “Our officers wanted to do their jobs and keep the riders safe. ... They are not working as immigration agents.”
On May 14, Lamers asked a Blue Line LRT passenger during a routine fare check whether he was in the United States legally. A cellphone video of the exchange taken by another passenger was posted on Facebook, attracting 1.4 million page views — as well as national and international attention.
Passenger Ariel Vences-Lopez had not paid his fare and gave police an inaccurate name and date of birth, Metro Transit said.
Vences-Lopez is a Mexican citizen and construction worker who had crossed the border illegally in 2012.
He was ordered deported by immigration officials, action that is now on hold while his lawyers work to get him a visa to stay in the United States. Criminal charges against him were later dismissed.
Padilla said investigations of the incident did not produce disciplinary actions against Lamers.
As of July, Lamers was still employed with the city of New Hope as a police officer. Lamers could not be reached for comment.
“I’m can’t speak to the results of the investigation,” Padilla said. “But I certainly would not leap to the conclusion that an officer did something wrong in this case.”
Karen Zamora • 612-673-4647