Lawsuits over fatal police shootings can result in multimillion-dollar settlements

August 8, 2018

The family of Antwon Rose II could be awarded millions of dollars if it wins the wrongful death lawsuit it filed Wednesday against East Pittsburgh officials or accepts a settlement offer in connection with the police shooting of Rose in June, based on similar cases elsewhere.

Winning lawsuits have resulted in settlements ranging from less than $1 million to nearly $10 million. Here’s a look at some of the cases:Terrance Sterling, $3.5 million settlement: A Washington, D.C., police officer shot Sterling in 2016 after police said he rammed a patrol car with his motorcycle. Sterling was unarmed, and the lawsuit filed by his family alleged that police got in the path of the motorcycle. An internal review board found the officer violated department policy when he shot Sterling, according to NBC Washington.

Walter Scott, $6.5 million settlement: A North Charleston, S.C., police officer shot and killed Scott in 2015 after he ran from a traffic stop and the two allegedly struggled over the officer’s Taser, according to the New York Times. Scott ran again and the officer fired eight shots at the unarmed Scott. Officer Michael Slager was sentenced to 20 years in prison, according to The Times.

Joseph Erin Hamley, $1 million settlement: An Arkansas state trooper shot and killed Hamley when the trooper mistook him for another man who had escaped from a Michigan prison, according to The Legal Examiner. Hamley, who had cerebral palsy, was lost walking along a highway when the trooper ordered him to the ground, according to the Washington Post. As Hamley struggled to roll over at the order of Trooper Larry Norman, the officer opened fire. Norman pleaded guilty to negligent homicide and served 54 days in jail.

Even when the officers involved are cleared of wrongdoing and no charges are filed, civil lawsuits can remain costly.Mharloun Saycon, $2 million settlement: Two Long Beach, Calif., police officers shot and killed Saycon in 2015 after police were called to escort him from an arcade when customers complained he had a knife, according to the Los Angeles Times. The family’s lawsuit alleged that Saycon was not actually holding the knife, but it was on his lap, and he never got up from the chair. The city of Long Beach said the officers who shot Saycon acted reasonably but settled rather than risk “a larger payout at trial.”

Michael Brown, $1.5 million settlement: Ferguson, Mo., officer Darren Wilson shot and killed the 18-year-old Brown in 2014, touching off a tense national debate over police shootings of people of color. Brown, unarmed when he was shot, was a suspect in a convenience store robbery. A St. Louis grand jury chose not to indict Wilson, but a U.S. Department of Justice investigation led to a consent agreement requiring the city to address bias in its police and courts, according to NBC News.

Philando Castile, $3 million settlement: A St. Anthony, Minn., police officer shot and killed Castile in his car during a 2016 traffic stop while Castile’s girlfriend live-streamed the aftermath on Facebook. During the traffic stop, Castile - whose 4-year-old daughter was in the car -- told Officer Jeronimo Yanez he was armed. Yanez told Castile not to reach for the gun and then shot him as he reached for his driver’s license, according to the Los Angeles Times. Yanez was acquitted and cleared of any wrongdoing. His mother received the $3 million settlement. His girlfriend received $675,000.

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