By Joseph Ax
NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York has agreed to pay a police officer more than $280,000 to settle his lawsuit alleging he was the victim of retaliation for complaining about an illegal arrest quota in his precinct, according to court papers filed on Monday.
Officer Craig Matthews sued the city and its police department in 2012, asserting he was punished for telling his superiors in the Bronx that the quota had led to unjustified street stops and arrests.
The settlement, in which the city did not admit wrongdoing, came 10 months after a U.S. appeals court reinstated the lawsuit.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York reversed an earlier lower court decision dismissing the case, saying Matthews' comments regarding the alleged quota were protected by the First Amendment guaranteeing freedom of speech.
The lawsuit claimed Matthews, who has been with the force for 17 years, was given punitive assignments, denied overtime and harassed as a result of his whistleblowing.
The claim was filed at a time when the New York City Police Department was under fire for its stop-and-frisk policy, which was eventually deemed an unconstitutional form of racial profiling by a federal judge.
“This settlement completely vindicates Officer Matthews, who had the courage to speak out about illegal police quotas and suffered serious retaliation for having done so,” said Christopher Dunn of the New York Civil Liberties Union, who represented Matthews.
The city's law department did not immediately comment on the agreement.
The deal requires approval from a U.S. judge.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Peter Cooney)