Freddie Gray: Freddie Gray’s Family Settles

Published: September 8, 2015

Freddie Gray: Freddie Gray’s Family Settles, The Rawlings-Blake administration plans to pay Freddie Gray’s family $6.4 million as a settlement for civil claims in his arrest and death — an extraordinary payment in a lawsuit against city police.

The settlement — which is expected to be approved at Wednesday’s meeting of the city’s spending panel — will be paid out over two years, according to the mayor’s office. The five-member board is controlled by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

The payment is larger than the total of more than 120 other lawsuits brought against the police department for alleged brutality and misconduct since 2011.

Gray, 25, died in April after sustaining a severe spinal cord injury in police custody. In the hours after his funeral, the city erupted into rioting, arson and looting. The National Guard was called in to help restore order, and a citywide curfew was put in place.

Six officers who were part of Gray’s arrest and transport in a police van have been charged with crimes ranging from murder to assault; all have pleaded not guilty. A pre-trial motions hearing is scheduled Thursday for a judge to decide whether to move the cases out of Baltimore; defense attorneys say the officers cannot get a fair trial here because of the intense publicity surrounding the case.

Billy Murphy, the lawyer representing Gray’s family, declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby also had no comment.

The claim was brought by Gray’s estate, including Freddie Carlos Gray Sr. and Gloria Darden, against the city police department.

The city is accepting all civil liability in Gray’s arrest and death, but does not acknowledge any wrongdoing by the police, according to a statement from Rawlings-Blake’s administration.

“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,” the mayor said in a statement. “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.”

The mayor’s office declined to answer questions about the settlement, including why it was brought to the spending panel before any lawsuit was filed.

Under the proposed settlement, the city would pay $2.8 million during the current fiscal year and $3.6 million in next year, the city said.

A settlement document to be presented to the spending panel contains little details on the case, outlining his arrest on April 12 in the 1600 block of North Avenue for “possession of an illegal knife under City law.”

The document says that the area of West Baltimore had been designated by the prosecutor’s office as a “high drug area requiring special enforcement.” It also says, “At some point during his transport to the Western District, Freddie Gray suffered a substantial injury which resulted in his death.”

“There are many facts and legal issues in connection with this case which are complex and hotly disputed,” the settlement summary says. “This proposed settlement does not resolve any factual disputes surrounding the events of April 12th and expressly does not constitute an admission of liability on the part of the City, the Baltimore Police Department, or any of the police officers who interacted with Mr. Gray on that day.

“Importantly, this settlement has nothing whatsoever to do with the criminal proceedings now underway.”

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