City reaches settlement with Hells Angels

NEW YORK -- Members of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club will receive nearly $200,000 in a settlement of civil rights claims brought after police broke into a building looking for a suspect in a beating.

Attorney Ron Kuby, who brought the lawsuit, said the police department failed to obtain a warrant before searching the Hells Angels Clubhouse in April 2000.

Gail O'Donoghue, a division chief in the city law office, said two bloodied victims of a beating told police the man who attacked them had gone into the building, but residents wouldn't let them in.

"They said if police were going to get this person out, they'd have to break down the door," O'Donoghue said. "It was clear they were not going to give police assistance in this investigation."

She added: "It's always painful to settle a lawsuit like this."

The city agreed to pay $194,570 plus attorney fees and expenses to 14 members and associates of the club in exchange for dismissal of a lawsuit against dozens of city police officers and their bosses.

Kuby said seven residents of the building were falsely arrested and detained for 12 hours before they were released without charges.

One Hells Angels member, not from New York City, was arrested inside the building and later pleaded guilty to assault, city lawyers said. That person will not share in the settlement.

The settlement follows an earlier award of $565,000 to the Hells Angels after officers in August 1998 failed to obey a search warrant restricting them to the ground floor of the building, Kuby said.