Pubdate: Thu, 11 Mar 2004
Source: Amarillo Globe-News (TX)
Copyright: 2004 Amarillo Globe-News
Author: Betsy Blaney
Bookmark: (Tulia, Texas)


(AP) - A settlement has been reached that will spread $5 million among 
Tulia residents who were targeted in a now-discredited drug bust that many 
said was racially motivated, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs said 
late Wednesday.

The agreement with the city of Amarillo also would disband the task force 
that oversaw the sting's undercover agent. Details were to be released 
today in a news conference in Amarillo.

"The settlement that was reached is truly historic," lawyer Jeff Blackburn 
told The Associated Press. "It represents the first example of a 
responsible city government putting an end to irresponsible task force 
system of narcotics enforcement.

Though the settlement involves a civil rights lawsuit filed last summer by 
two women whose drug charges were dropped after they provided alibis, all 
but one of the 46 arrested, 39 of them black, will receive some portion of 
the money. One defendant died before going to trial.

A claims administrator will determine how the funds will be apportioned. 
Zuri Bossett and Tonya White filed the lawsuit.

Mediation is ongoing with others named in the lawsuit - 26 counties and 
three cities that were involved with Panhandle Regional Narcotics 
Trafficking Task Force.

"The action of the city settling shows a leadership by a city in the Texas 
Panhandle that few would have expected," Blackburn said. "It's a fair 
effort to do the right thing to correct a serious injustice."
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