A $6.4 million wrongful death settlement will likely be granted to the family of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old Baltimore man who died in April from neck injuries acquired while in police custody.
Baltimore officials reached the settlement after weeks of negotiating with the Gray family’s attorney, Billy Murphy. The agreement still needs to be approved by the city’s Board of Estimates, the body that governs Baltimore’s spending. The group, which includes Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, is scheduled to meet Wednesday.
The mayor’s office released a statement Tuesday mentioning that the settlement will reconcile civil claims, but it will not affect the criminal cases against the six Baltimore officers facing charges for Gray’s death.
“The proposed settlement agreement going before the Board of Estimates should not be interpreted as a judgment on the guilt or innocence of the officers facing trial,” Rawlings-Blake said. “This settlement is being proposed solely because it is in the best interest of the city, and avoids costly and protracted litigation that would only make it more difficult for our city to heal and potentially cost taxpayers many millions more in damages.”
Gray was approached by police on April 12, and reportedly fled on-foot after making eye contact. After a brief chase, police eventually caught him. Baltimore chief prosecutor Marilyn Mosby and a witness say that upon catching him, one officer bent Gray’s legs back in a “leg lace” position and another dug their knee into his neck.
Footage from the arrest shows officers apprehending Gray as the young man screams in agony with his legs in a disfigured position and neck bent. He was then dragged into a van and was not strapped in a seat belt. Mosby said Gray’s neck injury was the “result of being handcuffed, shackled by his feet and unrestrained inside of the [Baltimore Police Department] wagon.”
Gray was eventually taken to the hospital with a severed spinal cord and died a week later. A riot occurred in Baltimore on the day of his funeral, with young Baltimore residents throwing rocks at officers, looting, and destroying police property.
One week ago, a judge decided that the officers indicted in the case will be given separate trials.
According to the settlement proposal, Gray’s family will be paid $2.8 million this fiscal year and $3.6 million during the fiscal year beginning next July. As reported by MSN News, the settlement also includes a call for the Baltimore police department to require their officers to wear body cameras.