City to OK first settlement with apartment residents in Woosypiti standoff

01/22/2014 11:09 AM

08/06/2014 2:47 AM

A south Wichita couple who lost everything in a mid-July police standoff at their apartment complex will receive $20,000 from the city.

The Wichita City Council is expected to sign off Tuesday on the $20,000 settlement to Alyssa Cooper and Derrick Jochum, the first settlement in more than $100,000 in damage claims from the 32-hour Wichita police standoff with Jared Woosypiti at Southlake Village Apartments.

At least a dozen claims have been filed with the city for damages caused by the Wichita Police Department as they tried to apprehend Woosypiti, 24, who was killed July 11 in a gunfight at the apartments. Six apartments were damaged when officers fired tear gas, detonated loud explosive devices and shot water into the apartments to try to drive out Woosypiti, who took refuge in the complex after fleeing a shooting at a south Wichita Kmart.

Cooper couldn’t be reached for comment Monday. She told The Eagle in late July that her family lost clothing, furniture and food when her apartment was destroyed; her kids fled the complex in bathing suits when the incident began. Police told her Woosypiti broke into her apartment through a wall.

City attorney Gary Rebenstorf said 12 claims were filed by apartment tenants, seeking $113,922. The city essentially self-insures itself for such incidents, paying claims out of the city’s self-insurance fund.

“We are looking at each claim individually as to the amount the city would pay to resolve the claim, if any,” Rebenstorf said.

The owners of Southlake Village have yet to file a claim with the city.

Council member Janet Miller said the city is committed to helping the people who lost belongings while Woosypiti took refuge in Building 8.

“I think the consensus of the council is clear that we want, and need, to do right by these people,” she said.

Miller said the city must stand behind the Southlake residents. “Even if some of them don’t have renter’s insurance, we’re told that it won’t cover an incident like this.”

Tuesday’s proposed council action includes a bonding resolution, which would allow the city to issue general obligation bonds to pay the $20,000 settlement through the self-insurance fund. The city made the settlement offer, documents indicate, because of the “uncertainty and risk of an adverse judgment at trial.” As with other council-approved legal settlements, the offer does not represent an admission of liability on the city’s part.

The standoff began the afternoon of July 10 after Woosypiti allegedly fled a shooting and apparent attempted robbery at the Kmart pharmacy at 47th Street South and Broadway. According to witness accounts, he drove to the apartment complex and ran into apartment 804 shortly before police arrived. Managers of the apartment complex said Woosypiti was an acquaintance of someone who lived in the apartment.

The residents banded together after the standoff, holding a news conference July 26 to complain that they hadn’t been approached by the city to help them get back on their feet.

Reach Bill Wilson at 316-268-6290 or bwilson@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @bwilsoneagle.

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