WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — The family of an African American man killed by a US police officer is to receive US$20 million in a civil settlement, their lawyer announced Monday.
In one of the largest such settlements ever in the US, Prince George’s County in the state of Maryland will make the payment to the family of William Green, who was shot dead while handcuffed earlier this year.
“This is a historic settlement (which) reflects the heinous nature, the brutal nature the senseless nature of what happened to Mr Green,” said attorney William Murphy said.
Green was arrested on January 27 in Prince George’s County, which borders the US capital Washington, after allegedly hitting several other cars with his own.
While 43-year-old Green was handcuffed and sitting in the police car, he was allegedly shot six times by the officer, Michael Owen.
Owen, who is also black, had said the two struggled and that Green attempted to take his gun.
Investigators have dismissed his claim and he was fired and charged with murder.
According to the Washington Post, Owen had a recent record of questionable use of force, but that nothing had been done.
“There is a terrible pattern of senseless violence, some things in his background that were terrifying,” said Murphy.
Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said authorities would take responsibility.
“There is no appropriate price tag to accompany a loss like this,” she said.
The award came almost two weeks after the city of Louisville, Kentucky settled a civil suit by the family of Breonna Taylor, a black woman shot dead by police there earlier this year, for US$12 million.
Because US police enjoy extensive protections for their actions while they are on duty, known as qualified immunity, the families of victims increasingly turn to civil suits against municipalities and counties to seek justice.