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Baltimore Offers Freddie Gray's Family $6.4M to Settle Civil Claims

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By Christopher Coble, Esq. on September 08, 2015 12:59 PM

The City of Baltimore has reached a tentative $6.4 million settlement agreement with the family of Freddie Gray. Gray died in April after suffering a fatal spinal cord injury while in police custody.

Baltimore has already paid a total of $5.7 million to settle more than 120 police brutality lawsuits since 2011, and the latest payout would be approved just days before another pre-trial hearing in the criminal case against the six officers charged in Gray's homicide.

Preemptive Settlement

Neither the Gray family's attorney, Billy Murphy, nor Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby would comment on the proposed settlement, but Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake released a statement:

"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."

Rawlings-Blake oversees Baltimore's spending panel, which is expected to approve the settlement this week. If the settlement is approved, the city would pay Gray's family $2.8 million this fiscal year and $3.6 million next year.

A Good Deal?

Interestingly, the settlement appears to be reached without Gray's family ever filing a lawsuit against the city and would likely preclude them from filing a wrongful death lawsuit in the future. And while it accepts all civil liability for Gray's death, it does not admit any wrongdoing on the part of the police -- that will be for the jury in their criminal case to decide.

Baltimore's proposed settlement is more than the $5.9 million paid by New York City to the family of Eric Garner, who was choked to death by officers last year, and less than the record $8.3 million given Martin Harrison's children after the Oakland man was Tased and beaten to death in an Alameda County jail.

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