I was almost three years ago that Ferguson, Missouri police officer shot and killed an African American teenager. Officer Darren Wilson is white. Michael Brown, the youth in question, quickly became the poster child for a growing protest against what many feel is unjust treatment of African Americans by the police. And now a settlement has been reached.
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After Brown was killed in August of 2014, his parents filed a civil lawsuit against the city of Ferguson. Also named in the suit were former police chief Thomas Jackson and the police officer, Darren Wilson. The lawsuit claimed that Wilson had “unjustifiably shot and killed” Brown. The shooting itself was described as “an unnecessary and unreasonable” use of force.
U.S. District Judge E. Richard Webber oversaw the proceeding, and has approved a settlement with Brown’s parents. He also ordered the settlement sealed. Attorney Apollo Carey, thought, disclosed the amount of the payment: $1.5 Million.
Webber wrote that the settlement is “fair and reasonable compensation for this wrongful death claim and is in the best interests of each Plaintiff.”
He justified the lack of disclosure by arguing that “disclosure of the terms of the settlement agreement could jeopardize the safety of individuals involved in this matter, whether as witnesses, parties, or investigators. The public policy to consider records open is outweighed by the adverse impact to Plaintiffs.”
The shooting was headline news for weeks in 2014, and many times since. Brown had been involved in what’s been described as a “strong-arm robbery” just moments before Officer Wilson confronted him in the street where Brown was killed. According to Officer Wilson, Brown attacked him in his patrol car. Witnesses describe Brown having his hands up when he was shot.
In the end, Wilson was not charged with any crime. He left the Ferguson Police Department voluntarily before the end of 2014.
Even the U.S. Department of Justice found that Wilson had not, in any way, violated Brown’s civil rights. It did criticize the police department for a pattern of civil-rights violations.