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Cleveland Settles Lawsuit with Tamir Rice’s Family

In April 2016, the city of Cleveland agreed to pay $6 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy shot by the police in 2014.  According to the Washington Post, neither the city nor the officers involved admitted any wrongdoing.

As the Post story reminds us, Tamir Rice’s death made headlines when he was shot and killed by police while playing with a toy gun in a public park.  Police were responding to a call about a man with a gun in the park, but were not told that the caller stated that the person with the gun might have been a child and the gun might have been a toy.  A grand jury found that the officer who fired the fatal shot was justified, and therefore never voted on specific criminal charges against him.  Rice’s family named the city and the two officers who responded to the call as defendants in their lawsuit seeking damages for the boy’s wrongful death.  The settlement concludes the lawsuit.

The Post notes other recent multi-million dollar settlements in police shooting cases, including:

  • New York City’s agreement to pay $5.9 million to Eric Garner’s family. Garner was killed in a chokehold by a police officer.  A grand jury declined to indict the officer involved.
  • Baltimore’s agreement to pay $6.4 million to Freddie Gray’s family. Gray died in police custody; the six officers involved currently face criminal charges in his death.
  • North Charleston’s agreement to pay $6.5 million to Walter Scott’s family. Scott was shot in the back after fleeing a traffic stop on foot. The officer involved in this case is facing murder charges.

Meanwhile, in Austin, Texas, the Austin American Statesman reports that police chief Art Acevedo is under fire from city management for appearing at a press conference accompanied by Black Lives Matter activists after an Austin police officer shot and killed an unarmed, naked black teenager.  The officer, who is also black, was fired after an internal review determined that the shooting was unjustified.

Civil suits against cities and their police departments

When you lose a loved one to an excessive use of force by the police, or experience excessive force yourself, there are legal avenues open to you to obtain justice.  Although reports indicate that few officers are charged with a crime or serve time, actions for wrongful death or civil rights violations in the civil courts can help you protect your rights and recover some compensation for the harm you and your family have suffered.  Although money can never bring back loved ones lost, it can help ease the financial burden that falls on a family after a death or serious injury.  The skilled Florida lawyers of The Baez Law Firm have years of experience representing clients in both wrongful death and civil rights cases in Tampa, Orlando, Miami, and throughout the state.  Contact us for a consultation about your case today.

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