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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Des Moines, Iowa recently hired three lawyers at $150 an hour to represent police in two high-profile lawsuits alleging misconduct, according to city documents.

Why it matters: Taxpayer costs for litigation and potential settlements in the cases could be significant. And the lawsuits could influence long-running tensions between police and the public.

The lawsuits allege:

  • Video evidence was previously withheld that shows officers made an illegal stop that resulted in the conviction of a Black man for a traffic offense.
  • People were wrongly tear-gassed, beaten and arrested by at least 16 officers in last year’s civil unrest that followed George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.

Worth noting: Multiple other lawsuits against Des Moines police are pending — and some name a few of the same officers.

This story first appeared in the Axios Des Moines newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

Go deeper

Popularity of delivery apps soars in Des Moines despite restaurant struggles

Data: Second Measure; Chart: Axios Visuals

Companies like DoorDash have become popular in the Des Moines marketplace thanks to the pandemic.

The big picture: Sales through the delivery service have more than doubled since the pandemic hit about a year ago, per consumer analytics company Second Measure. But that doesn’t mean everything is rosy in the restaurant world.

Feb 16, 2021 - Axios Des Moines

Former Iowa Democratic Party chairman speaks out on caucus chaos

Troy Price answered media questions in the aftermath of the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 7, 2020. Photo: Steve Pope/Getty Images

Iowa's first-caucus status was a target by those who wanted to butt ahead of Iowa long before the botched 2020 event, Troy Price, the former Iowa Democratic Party chairman who resigned under pressure, told Axios on Monday. That included some people from within Democratic circles, he said.

Driving the news: Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said Iowa's first-in-the-nation status is "unacceptable" in an explosive new interview published Sunday by the New York Times.

Biden explains justification for Syria strike in letter to Congress

Photo: Chris Kleponis/CNP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden told congressional leadership in a letter Saturday that this week's airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to Iranian-backed militia groups was consistent with the U.S. right to self-defense.

Why it matters: Some Democrats, including Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), have criticized the Biden administration for the strike and demanded a briefing.