Carver County officials have agreed to pay $450,000 to the parents of a 16-year-old fatally shot by deputies, to settle a suit they filed against officials for releasing private records about their son.
Donald and Kara Amorosi contended that Sheriff Jason Kamerud and County Attorney Mark Metz released information about their son, Archer, that state law classifies as private because it involved a juvenile. He was killed in July 2018 during a mental-health crisis.
Under the terms of the settlement, the county does not admit liability and the parents have dropped their suits against Kamerud and Metz.
But the information released about their son has become “Archer’s legacy,” Donald Amorosi said.
“If you Google Archer’s name, it’s the first thing that comes up,” he said. “That damage cannot be undone.”
Scott Flaherty, a Minneapolis lawyer who specializes in data privacy issues, called the amount of the settlement “significantly large” for a case of this sort and perhaps unprecedented in Minnesota.
The Carver County Board was expected to discuss the settlement Tuesday in closed session and vote on it at its July 7 meeting, said Jason Hively, an attorney representing the county. County Administrator David Hemze declined to comment on pending litigation.
But Paul Dworak, an attorney representing the parents, said he had received a document from the county offering the payment and considered it “a done deal.” He said he plans to ask Hennepin County District Court on Wednesday to dismiss the court case.
The board will vote on $180,000 to cover the Amorosis’ attorneys fees, which will come out of the county budget, Hively said. The balance of the settlement, $270,000, including the county’s own legal fees, is covered by insurance.
Archer Amorosi was a member of the varsity lacrosse team and “a really popular kid” at Minnetonka High School, where he would have graduated this year, his father said.
Deputies went to Kara Amorosi’s Chanhassen home in July 2018 after she called 911 to report Archer was threatening to hurt himself. The boy went outside and charged the deputies, brandishing a hatchet and a handgun-style BB gun, shouting: “Shoot! Shoot!” When he refused orders to drop the weapons, deputies shot him.
On the eve of Archer’s funeral, officials released the 911 transcript and emergency dispatch audio that were recorded the day he died, his parents said. Three months later, Metz told them the shooting was justified and that he would not be filing criminal charges against the officers.
That same day he sent out a 34-page news release to Minnesota media outlets that quoted the 911 call and described the deputies’ body camera video — data considered private under state law, according to the lawsuit.
The parents said they pleaded with Metz to keep the information private, and that Metz declined to show them the release before distributing it. “I started getting calls from press people before I’d even read it,” Donald Amorosi said.
Showing the family the news release in advance would have given them the chance to seek an injunction, Dworak said. “This was a rush by law enforcement to demonize the victim with a one-sided version of events with complete disregard for a family that just lost a loved one,” he said.
Marshall Tanick, a Minneapolis attorney who works on data practices cases, said the prosecutor’s actions were not unheard of. “Whenever I see one of those news releases about a dead kid saying, ‘You need to know how bad this kid really was,’ I always think the same thing: Somebody ought to be suing them,” he said.
The Carver County Attorney’s Office did not seek an opinion from the state’s Data Practices Office on whether the specific data should be public or private, but the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension did. That opinion said data involving a juvenile that includes information of the type contained in the county’s release is classified as private.
County officials “were well aware” that the parents “objected to the release of information, that there was a legal basis for their objection and a process to get guidance whether to release the information,” wrote District Judge Kevin Burke, denying a motion by the county to have the case dismissed. “There was no emergency — the defendants chose to disseminate the information anyway.”
The parents declined to comment on whether they were considering legal action over their son’s death itself.