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>>

  • Delaware Man Charged In Hawaii Nightclub Shooting

    Delaware Man Charged With Hawaii Nightclub Shooting

    09/21/2017 16:40:00 -04:002017-09-21 20:40:00 GMT
    Thursday, September 21 2017 4:45 PM EDT2017-09-21 20:45:57 GMT
    A Dover woman was arrested after providing officers with a fake name.A Dover woman was arrested after providing officers with a fake name.
    A former Delaware death-row inmate who brought an 18-year-old Delaware man to Hawaii to get a fresh start says the teen has been falsely accused of a deadly shooting because he's black.More
    A former Delaware death-row inmate who brought an 18-year-old Delaware man to Hawaii to get a fresh start says the teen has been falsely accused of a deadly shooting because he's black.More
  • Salisbury City Police Obtain Surveillance Footage of Cook Out Assault

    Salisbury City Police Obtain Surveillance Footage of Cook Out Assault

    09/21/2017 17:18:00 -04:002017-09-21 21:18:00 GMT
    Friday, September 22 2017 7:29 AM EDT2017-09-22 11:29:31 GMT
    Cook OutCook Out
    Salisbury police are hoping that surveillance footage taken at the Cook Out restaurant on the city's south side will help them locate seven people who attacked four Salisbury University students early Saturday morning.More
    Salisbury police are hoping that surveillance footage taken at the Cook Out restaurant on the city's south side will help them locate seven people who attacked four Salisbury University students early Saturday morning.More
  • Some Delaware Correctional Officers Concerned Over Rec. Time for Maximum Security Inmates

    Some Delaware Correctional Officers Concerned Over Rec. Time for Maximum Security Inmates

    09/21/2017 20:31:00 -04:002017-09-22 00:31:00 GMT
    Friday, September 22 2017 8:09 AM EDT2017-09-22 12:09:00 GMT
    The James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, Del. (Photo: WBOC)The James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, Del. (Photo: WBOC)
    Some correctional officers in Delaware are concerned about staffing accomodations for maximum security inmates at the James. T. Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna, a prison that experienced a deadly inmate uprising in February.More
    Some correctional officers in Delaware are concerned about staffing accomodations for maximum security inmates at the James. T. Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna, a prison that experienced a deadly inmate uprising in February.More
  • Most Popular VideosMost Popular VideosMore>>

  • Salisbury City Police Obtain Surveillance Footage of Cook Out Assault

    Salisbury City Police Obtain Surveillance Footage of Cook Out Assault

    Salisbury City Police are hoping that surveillance footage of an assault at Cook Out will help them in finding seven people who physically attacked four Salisbury University students in the early hours of Saturday morning.

    More

    Salisbury City Police are hoping that surveillance footage of an assault at Cook Out will help them in finding seven people who physically attacked four Salisbury University students in the early hours of Saturday morning.

    More
  • Woman Makes 125-Mile Journey Across Tubman Byway

    Woman Makes 125-Mile Journey Across Tubman Byway

    It's 9 a.m. and Mashona Council is beginning her day. After spending Wednesday night at the James Webb Cabin in Preston, Md., a stop near the Underground Railroad, she's gearing up for her journey. It's a journey she says is both literal and metaphorical. Council says she's walking the whole 125-miles of the byway for herself.

    More

    It's 9 a.m. and Mashona Council is beginning her day. After spending Wednesday night at the James Webb Cabin in Preston, Md., a stop near the Underground Railroad, she's gearing up for her journey. It's a journey she says is both literal and metaphorical. Council says she's walking the whole 125-miles of the byway for herself.

    More
  • Some Delaware Correctional Officers Concerned Over Rec. Time for Maximum Security Inmates

    Some Delaware Correctional Officers Concerned Over Rec. Time for Maximum Security Inmates

    Some correctional officers in Delaware are concerned about staffing accommodations for maximum security inmates at the Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna, a prison that experienced an inmate uprising in February in which a correctional officer died.

    Jurgen Burgoyne, a former correctional officer, said he and colleagues who still work at Vaughn are concerned about a decision to resume giving maximum security inmates 17-and-a-half hours of recreational time a week.

    More

    Some correctional officers in Delaware are concerned about staffing accommodations for maximum security inmates at the Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna, a prison that experienced an inmate uprising in February in which a correctional officer died.

    Jurgen Burgoyne, a former correctional officer, said he and colleagues who still work at Vaughn are concerned about a decision to resume giving maximum security inmates 17-and-a-half hours of recreational time a week.

    More
Powered by Frankly

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 WBOC. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices