Experts Say Settlement in Gray Case Could Affect Hearing - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Experts Say Settlement in Gray Case Could Affect Hearing

Posted: Updated:
Freddie Gray (Photo: AP) Freddie Gray (Photo: AP)

BALTIMORE (AP)- A $6.4 million settlement between the city of Baltimore and the family of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died a week after he was critically injured while in police custody, could play a role in whether a judge decides to move the trials for the six officers charged in Gray's death out of the city.
    
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced the settlement Tuesday, just two days before Judge Barry Williams will decide whether the trials should be moved to a different jurisdiction. Defense attorneys have asked for a change of venue, citing pre-trial publicity and concern that the officers will not receive fair trials if they are tried in Baltimore.
    
The settlement is expected to be approved Wednesday by the Baltimore Board of Estimates, a body that reviews city payments. The settlement appears to be among the largest settlements in police death cases in recent years, and was reached before Gray's parents and his estate filed a lawsuit, although they had filed claims with the city and its police department.
    
Although the city said in a statement that the settlement does not resolve any factual disputes, and expressly does not constitute an admission of liability on the part of the city, its police department or any of the officers, experts say the city's willingness to pre-empt a lawsuit could have an effect on the officers' ability to receive a fair trial in Baltimore - an issue Williams will likely decide Thursday.
    
"Damages would have been paid if the city went to trial and they're willing to settle it. But they tell us it's by no way an admission of fault by the police officers," said David Harris, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. "There's no doubt that this will figure in to the hearing for change of venue. If I was an attorney for a defendant I'd be revising my motion right now to say the settlement was made to persuade the jury pool that the officers did something wrong."
    
Douglas Colbert, a professor at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey Law School, said the settlement is a step in restoring the public's faith in local government and mending the relationship between the citizens of Baltimore and elected officials.
    
"It's a big step toward a different type of policing," Colbert said, "and a relationship with the community that deters misconduct."
    
An agenda for the board Wednesday described the city's goal in settling the claim.
    
"The purpose of the civil settlement is to bring an important measure of closure to the family, the community and the city and to avoid years of protracted civil litigation and potential harm to the community and divisiveness with may likely result."
    
In July, New York City settled for $5.9 million with the family of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who died after being put in a white police officer's chokehold. The city of Chicago settled in 2001 a wrongful death lawsuit by the family of LaTanya Haggerty, a black woman who was shot to death by a police officer who thought her cellphone was a weapon, for $18 million.
    
But Eugene O'Donnell, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said such settlements are damaging for communities and self-serving for governments. By paying off family members, O'Donnell said, cities can prevent real scrutiny of political and social ills that allowed misconduct to occur.
    
"It's all too easy to take public money and hand it over to people and say, 'Well, this is a big aberrational mistake and we're going to make it good,' and it generally absolves the policymakers and the people in power of responsibility, when in fact the mistakes are systemic and reflective of a lack of leadership," he said.
    
The head of Baltimore's police union condemned the agreement.
    
"To suggest that there is any reason to settle prior to the adjudication of the pending criminal cases is obscene and without regard to the fiduciary responsibility owed to the taxpaying citizens of the city," Lt. Gene Ryan said in a statement.
    
All six officers, including Edward Nero and Garrett Miller, are charged with second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment. Lt. Brian Rice, Sgt. Alicia White and Officer William Porter also face a manslaughter charge, while Officer Caesar Goodson faces the most serious charge of all: second-degree "depraved-heart" murder.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Suspects Sought in Seaford Home Invasion

    Suspects Sought in Seaford Home Invasion

    May 21, 2018 10:32 AM2018-05-21 14:32:00 GMT
    Monday, May 21 2018 10:32 AM EDT2018-05-21 14:32:06 GMT
    Photo: MGN ImagesPhoto: MGN Images
    Photo: MGN ImagesPhoto: MGN Images
    Seaford police are investigating a weekend home invasion in which one of the suspects put a gun up to a 5-year-old girl's head.More
    Seaford police are investigating a weekend home invasion in which one of the suspects put a gun up to a 5-year-old girl's head. More
  • Ocean City Responds After Video of Criminal Activity During Cruisin' Weekend

    Ocean City Responds After Video of Criminal Activity During Cruisin' Weekend

    May 21, 2018 5:31 PM2018-05-21 21:31:00 GMT
    Monday, May 21 2018 5:31 PM EDT2018-05-21 21:31:19 GMT
    OCEAN CITY, Md.- Ocean City's mayor and police department are speaking out after video showed a large fight and a truck driving wildly up the Ocean City Boardwalk over the weekend. Mayor Rick Meehan says one person was arrested and another arrest was pendMore
    OCEAN CITY, Md.- Ocean City's mayor and police department are speaking out after video showed a large fight and a truck driving wildly up the Ocean City Boardwalk over the weekend. Mayor Rick Meehan says one person was arrested and another arrest was pendMore
  • Dover Sears Department Store to Close

    Dover Sears Department Store to Close

    May 21, 2018 3:31 PM2018-05-21 19:31:00 GMT
    Monday, May 21 2018 5:28 PM EDT2018-05-21 21:28:55 GMT
    Sears Holdings said it is closing a department store at the Dover Mall in early August.More
    Sears Holdings said it is closing a department store at the Dover Mall in early August.More
  • Most Popular VideosMost Popular VideosMore>>

  • Rain Impacts Cruisin' OC's Effect on Ocean City Economy

    Rain Impacts Cruisin' OC's Effect on Ocean City Economy

    The wet weather this weekend may have impacted businesses in Ocean City. Restaurants say that because Cruisin' OC was underway, they expected an influx of customers. But because of the rain, owners say business was slow. As WBOC's Caroline Coles reports, Ocean City neighbors were actually happy the rain kept the car enthusiasts away.

    More

    The wet weather this weekend may have impacted businesses in Ocean City. Restaurants say that because Cruisin' OC was underway, they expected an influx of customers. But because of the rain, owners say business was slow. As WBOC's Caroline Coles reports, Ocean City neighbors were actually happy the rain kept the car enthusiasts away.

    More
  • DSP Investigating Serious Saturday Night Crash Involving a Golf Cart

    DSP Investigating Serious Saturday Night Crash Involving a Golf Cart

    Delaware State Police said troopers are investigating a serious crash involving a golf cart Saturday night that seriously injured one person.

    More

    Delaware State Police said troopers are investigating a serious crash involving a golf cart Saturday night that seriously injured one person.

    More
  • Tractor-trailer, Multiple Vehicles Involved in Camden Crash

    Tractor-trailer, Multiple Vehicles Involved in Camden Crash

    Delaware State Police say a crash involving a tractor-trailer and multiple vehicles led to the closure of South DuPont Highway in Camden in both directions. 

    The accident occurred around 9:44 a.m. on northbound South DuPont Highway (US13) near Thomas Harmon Drive, which is the Camden Walmart entrance. It is unknown what the extent of any injuries are at this time.

    More

    Delaware State Police say a crash involving a tractor-trailer and multiple vehicles led to the closure of South DuPont Highway in Camden in both directions. 

    The accident occurred around 9:44 a.m. on northbound South DuPont Highway (US13) near Thomas Harmon Drive, which is the Camden Walmart entrance. It is unknown what the extent of any injuries are at this time.

    More
Powered by Frankly

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 WBOC. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices