Officials representing the State of Maryland and City of Baltimore agreed to pay a total of $1 million to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit with the family of Tyrone West, who was killed during an encounter with police in 2013.
The settlement comes some four years after West was died during an altercation with law enforcement following a traffic stop in Baltimore.
Baltimore is due to pay $600,000, with the State of Maryland paying the remainder of the $1 million total.
Attorney for the West family, A. Dwight Petit, said the money would go to Tyrone’s three surviving children, as well as lawyers’ fees.
The Baltimore Sun reports that the city’s Interim Solicitor, David Ralph, said a settlement was in the best interest of both parties.
The legal struggle between the West family, city officials, and the State of Maryland had escalated to federal court, with decisions often swinging toward one side and then back to the other.
“We consider the facts and the evidence we think we can prove,” said Ralph. “We considered the risk to the city and the family’s interest. Both parties decided it was the reasonable and wise thing to do given the uncertainties of cases… This is the family’s idea of what justice means to them.”
While seeming to leave off on a precociously passive-aggressive remark, Ralph intends to bring Baltimore’s portion of the settlement to the city’s Board of Estimates in August.
The spending panel, per the Baltimore Sun, is controlled by Mayor Catherine E. Pugh, who seemed more sympathetic to the family’s plight than the Interim Solicitor.
“I don’t think any amount of money can replace anyone. I don’t think there’s any kind of solace in any settlement,” she said, remarking on what appears to be the case’s final outcome.
Maryland’s Board of Public Works, headed by the governor, approved $400,000 to the West family during a Wednesday meeting.
West’s arrest and subsequent death proved controversial at a local level, due the circumstances surrounding the man’s encounter with law enforcement.
Officers initiated a traffic stop on West’s vehicle, after he ‘unsafely’ backed his vehicle into an intersection.
Shortly after West was pulled over, officers noticed a bulge in his sack, which they suspected contained drugs.
Despite denying the officers’ accusation, West fled, leading law enforcement on a brief chase down the street and through and alleyway. He fought against the officers intermittently before eventually being tackled and subdued.
While handcuffed, West began experiencing difficulty breathing. Within minutes he was unconscious – he was pronounced dead at a local hospital just over an hour later.
The Baltimore Police Department opened several inquiries into West’s death, concluding that, while ‘tactical mistakes’ had been made, officers reacted as they should have in a life-threatening situation. The West family contends that the police used excessive force and didn’t take the summer day’s extreme heat into account as they made their detainee stand, handcuffed, outside a patrol car.
The Baltimore Sun reported that the West family also filed a civil lawsuit, which is expected to move to trial some time in fall.