Derek Hawkins, Washington Post, June 21, 2017
The parents of Michael Brown, the unarmed black teen fatally shot by a Ferguson, Mo., police officer, settled a wrongful-death lawsuit with the city Tuesday, closing the civil case over a killing that stoked nationwide debate about African American deaths at the hands of law enforcement.
The settlement amount was not disclosed, but U.S. District Judge E. Richard Webber of the Eastern District of Missouri said he was satisfied that the agreement was fair to the parties and compliant with the law.
“The gross settlement amount is fair and reasonable compensation for this wrongful death claim and is in the best interest of each Plaintiff,” Webber wrote. He added that it provided a reasonable amount for attorney fees and expenses, and said the split between Brown’s parents was proper.
The judge ordered the agreement sealed under Missouri’s Sunshine Law, saying Brown’s parents could be harmed if it were revealed to the public.
Brown’s parents, Michael Brown Sr. and Lesley McSpadden, sued the city of Ferguson, Wilson and former Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson in May 2015. Their lawsuit alleged the officer was unreasonably aggressive when he stopped Brown and used excessive force when he fired on him, all in violation of his civil rights.
It also claimed the city’s law enforcement practices “contributed to police officers’ devaluation of African American life in the city of Ferguson” and said the police department had a “historical racial bias and hostility” to black citizens.
The lawsuit extensively cited a scathing Department of Justice report from 2015 that found pervasive racial bias in Ferguson’s 72-member police department and detailed what then-Attorney General Eric Holder called “routine” constitutional violations by law enforcement.