LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The $12 million settlement for the estate of Breonna Taylor is one of the largest ever paid in the United States in a case of police excessive force and by far the biggest paid out in Louisville for alleged police misconduct.
Ben Crump, an attorney for Taylor’s family, called it potentially the largest payout ever in America for a Black person wrongfully killed by police and the most ever for a Black woman in America killed by police.
But in 1999, Chicago police killed an unarmed Black woman, LaTanya Haggerty, and her family settled for $18 million, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Haggerty, a 26-year-old computer analyst, was a passenger in a car that fled a police traffic stop and was chased for 31 blocks before she was shot dead by an officer, who said she confused Haggerty’s cell phone for a gun.
And in 2018, Chicago paid $16 million payment to the family of Bettie Jones, who was fatally shot by a police officer firing at a teenager carrying a baseball bat.
The largest publicly disclosed settlements in cases involving police killings have included a $38-million award to the family of a 23-year-old Maryland hairstylist Korryn Gaines, who was killed inside her apartment during a standoff with the police, and $20 million to the family of a 40-year-old yoga instructor who was killed by an officer when she approached his car in Minneapolis.
The Taylor settlement comes six months and two days after Taylor was shot by Louisville police during the execution of a search warrant at her apartment that went awry. She was shot five times and died in the hallway shortly before 1 a.m. March 13.
“I am deeply, deeply sorry for Breonna’s death,” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said as he announced Tuesday’s financial settlement and a series of reform measures inside Louisville’s police force.
The settlement for Taylor is about twice the amount paid by the cities of Cleveland, New York and Baltimore, respectively, for the deaths of Tamir Rice and Eric Garner in 2014 and Freddie Gray in 2015.
The Breonna Taylor case: Everything you need to know and the latest news here
Tamir, 12, was killed in a Cleveland park by an officer who said he confused the boy’s replica gun for a real one. The city paid his family $6 million.
New York paid $5.9 million to the family of Garner after he died when an officer placed him in a chokehold. Baltimore paid $6.4 million for the death of Gray, who died after sustaining injuries in police custody.
Louisville’s payouts over the years
The previously largest local accord in Louisville was $8.5 million paid in 2012 for the wrongful arrest of Edwin Chandler, who was convicted based on the perjured testimony of Detective Mark Handy and spent more than nine years behind bars before he was exonerated.
Including the settlement for Taylor’s wrongful death, Metro Louisville has paid out at least $45 million to settle claims against police over the past dozen years.
Those payments were made in 21 lawsuits that alleged the use of excessive force, wrongful incarceration, sexual harassment, whistle-blower law violations and deaths caused by speeding officers or in police pursuits.
Nineteen of the cases were settled and two tried to jury verdicts.
Louisville could be on the hook to pay out millions of dollars more in high-profile pending cases.
Those include one suit filed in 2017 in which seven plaintiffs claim they were sexually assaulted by police in the since-discontinued Police Explorer program, as well as another suit filed the same year by Garr Keith Hardin and Jeffrey Dewayne Clark, who were exonerated after serving 23 years each for the murder of a woman that Handy falsely linked to Satanic worship.
Before the Taylor settlement, four of the top five largest settlements in Louisville were for wrongful arrest, and one was for excessive force.
Here are the details of the largest settlements and verdicts besides Chandler’s.
- Kerry Porter, $7.5 million. (2018) For a wrongful arrest that put him behind bars for 11 years for a murder he did not commit. Porter, who was exonerated in 2011, claimed in a lawsuit that officers used improperly suggestive identification procedures and concealed evidence that showed he was innocent.
- William Gregory, $3.9 million. (2007) For wrongful arrest that led to his imprisonment for seven years for two rapes before he was exonerated by DNA evidence.
- Tiffany Washington, $2.25 million (2019) A jury returned the verdict for the wrongful arrest in 2007 of Washington, then a University of Louisville student, by Detective Crystal Marlowe, who was fired in 2011 by then-Chief Robert White. Four other people have sued in similar cases that could go to trial.
- Bruce Warrick, $1.8 million (2018) For excessive force. Warrick, who was unarmed, was shot by Officer Sarah Stumler and survived. He was shot almost immediately after he was found in a house following reports that a man was doing drugs inside.
- Estates of Aaron Shields and Mark, Demar and Jemar Claybrooks. $1.6 million (2017) For negligence in a police pursuit in which the four boys died. Their families claimed the pursuit was dangerous and violated department rules. The boys were returning home from a field trip sponsored by Youth Alive and had been told to get into the car because the anti-crime group’s van was full. The driver, who was 16 and had a criminal record, had stolen the car two weeks earlier.
- Shaquazz Allen, Tyrone Booker Jr., Craig Dean and Jerron Bush. $1.5 million. For wrongful arrest after police used erroneous eyewitness identification procedures following mob violence in Louisville. The young men, dubbed the Misidentified Four, spent 70 days in jail before they were exonerated.
- Darnell Wicker, $1.25 million (2019) For excessive force and wrongful death. While holding a tree saw, Wicker was shot 14 times by police Officers Taylor Banks and Beau Gadegaard, who were responding to a domestic violence incident. Wicker, who was deaf in one ear and could partially hear with the other, was shot seconds after officers told him to drop the saw.
Other settlements including police reforms
The Taylor case is not the first in which a city agreed to policing reforms, in addition to monetary compensation, in an alleged misconduct case.
According to New York civil rights attorney Nick Brustin:
In Chattanooga, Tennessee, after Leslie Vaughn Prater died of positional asphyxia during an arrest, the city, in addition to paying $1.5 million to his family, agreed to an independent audit of its internal affairs department, to let Prater’s mother speak to training classes for new recruits about the loss of her son and to create a video about that.
Minute by minute: What happened the night Louisville police fatally shot Breonna Taylor
In Detroit, when Eddie Joe Lloyd was exonerated after serving 17 years for a rape and murder he did not commit, the city, in addition to paying nearly $4 million to his estate, agreed to start taping all interrogations of suspects in custody.
And in Cleveland, besides paying $1.6 million to Anthony Michael Green, who spent 13 years in prison for a rape he did not commit, the city agreed to a comprehensive audit of the Cleveland Crime Lab, which was implicated in his wrongful conviction.
The magnitude of the Taylor settlement could have an impact on pending police shooting lawsuits nationwide, including one brought by five children of Alton Sterling, a Black man who was shot and killed by police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 2016.
The Baton Rouge Metro Council last Wednesday came up one vote short of the required number to approve a proposed $5 million settlement for his wrongful death.
Mike Adams, an attorney for his children, said in an interview Tuesday that the Taylor accord “sends a message to police departments and cities everywhere, including Baton Rouge, to own their mistakes.”
He said it also shows that the city and parish could face more exposure than $5 million if the Sterling case goes to trial, as it is set to do next year.
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Breonna Taylor settlement one of largest ever in U.S. for Black victim of police shooting
Published at Wed, 16 Sep 2020 07:44:37 +0000