Lawsuit against Mission, police officers in Catrina Engle case dismissed voluntarily; terms being kept secret

The multi-million dollar lawsuit against the City of Mission over a March 2013 incident at the Mission post office on Broadmoor has been ended, but the terms of the agreement that led to its dismissal are being kept secret.

Catrina Engle, show being handcuffed in video of the incident that prompted her legal action against the city of Mission.
Catrina Engle, show being handcuffed in video of the incident that prompted her legal action against the city of Mission.

Catrina Engle had sued the city, then police chief John Simmons and officers Timothy Gift and Michelle Pierce, asking for $1.75 million in compensatory damages and $1.75 in punitive damages. The suit was dismissed voluntarily in late June by both sides with each party paying its own attorney’s fees. The city was represented by attorneys for its insurance company.

An open records request by for the terms of any agreement or any payments issued by the city were all met with the response that the information was “confidential and privileged per the insurance company’s lawyer, Peter Maharry. Fisher Patterson Sayler & Smith.” Maharry did not return a call Wednesday morning. The only substantive answer provided to the request said that the “City’s deductible was $5,000.” That was in response to a question asking for records that would indicate payments by the city or its insurance company to Engle under any agreement.

The Mission City Council held an executive session in June near the time of the dismissal, citing litigation as the justification for the closed meeting. A confidentiality agreement is reportedly in place over terms of any settlement. The insurance company’s attorneys represented the city in the federal suit.

During the post office incident, officers handcuffed Engle and took her to the ground. She was charged with interfering with a police officer and disorderly conduct and found guilty by Mission City Judge Keith Drill in August 2013. She appealed the conviction and was found innocent on both charges in Johnson County District Court in November 2013. Mission City Attorney David Martin prosecuted that case for the city.

In her federal lawsuit, filed before the district court trial, she alleged that police threw her to the ground, searched her purse, performed a cavity search and took her driver’s license without consent. Her children were nearby when she was taken into custody. She claimed a violation of her Constitutional rights and emotional harm to the children.

Simmons left the department the next month after the federal suit was filed. Pierce, the officer who initially interacted with Engle at the scene, also has left the department.