Wednesday, September 9, 2015

City of Baltimore Approves $6.4 Million Settlement With Freddie Gray's Family

On Wednesday, September 9th, the city of Baltimore Maryland approved a $6.4 million settlement for the family of Freddie Gray.

Gray was the 25-year-old Black man arrested by Baltimore City Police Officers on April 12 after a foot chase in West Baltimore. Screaming from pain and legs appearing listless, he was placed into a police transport van while in handcuffs and shackles and was not secured with a seatbelt.

It was later determined the unsecured ride to jail resulted in fatal spinal injuries to Gray.

A medical examiner ruled the death a homicide. The six officers involved face an array of criminal charges.

A statement from Baltimore City Hall explained Gray's family would be paid $2.8 million in the current fiscal year and $3.6 million in the one starting July 1, 2016. The Board of Estimates controls city finances, and its five members include the mayor.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said the settlement helps the city "avoid continuing anxiety and distraction." Ultimately, she said, city attorneys found that taking this lawsuit to court would have proved more costly.

The settlement also does not include any admission of guilt by the city. Gray's death sparked days of peaceful protests and a night of riots in April.

Rawlings-Blake expressed her condolences to the Gray family.

The payout would be the latest in a long line of settlements by Baltimore over allegations of police brutality. Since 2011, the city has paid a total of $5.7 million in police-related court judgments and settlements, according to the Baltimore Sun.

My observation. Settlements related to the loss of life are great. Parties responsible for the demise of another should be responsible for compensating the family that lost a loved one. However, settlements are a double-edged sword. It compensates while at the same time assigns a monetary value to life (I know insurance companies do it all the time).

In Gray's case 6.4 million is nothing to scoff at but the argument could be made that he would have been worth more than that.

Then there is the dangerous probability of the settlement amounts being assigned becoming threshold amounts for certain genders, ages, and economic groups.

The lives that are senseless being snuffed out are priceless. A billion dollars will improve the quality of life for the families of deceased however, it pales in comparison to the true value of the life that was lost.

We've got to pursue solutions well outside litigation to diminish future episodes like Gray's.

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