Baltimore Agrees to $6.4 Million Wrongful Death Settlement

The family of Freddie Gray, who died in Baltimore police custody after being arrested, has been awarded a $6.4 million dollar settlement by the city. The city resolved the civil claim about a week after the hearing of the first case against the six officers.

Six Baltimore officers are facing charges stemming from Gray’s death. Gray was critically injured while being detained in the back of a police transport van after he had been arrested. His death sparked protests and unrest in the city of Baltimore for days. Rioting and unrest became the norm, as citizens marched in the streets demanding answers. As the city erupted into arson, looting, and violence, the National Guard was called in to restore some semblance of order.

The settlement, to be paid by the Rawlings-Blake administration, is said to be one of the most lucrative since 2011. It is substantially larger than 120 other lawsuits brought against the city of Baltimore.

The officers involved in the handling of Gray are being charged with crimes that range from assault to murder. All have pleaded not guilty. A pre-trial motions hearing is scheduled for Thursday. Defense lawyers are concerned that the officers won’t get a fair trial because of the high-profile nature of the case.

In a statement from the Baltimore Sun, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Baltimore mayor, acknowledges the city is accepting all civil liability in Gray’s arrest and death. She does not admit any wrongdoing by the police.

“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. 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.”

Lt. Gene Ryan, president of the Baltimore’s police union, called the settlement irresponsible and a “ridiculous reaction” by Rawlings-Blake.

The settlement is similar to the amount the family of Eric Garner received from New York City in July. The city agreed to pay $5.9 million to the family after a police officer used a chokehold to subdue Garner on the sidewalk.

The proposed settlement by Baltimore will be paid as $2.8 million in the current fiscal year and $3.6 million in the year beginning in July 2016.

[Photo by Alex Wong / Getty Images]