ROCKFORD, Ill. (AP) — The city of Rockford has reached a $1.1 million settlement with the estate of an unarmed black man who was fatally shot inside a church-run day care by two white police officers in 2009, according to officials.
In a statement released Monday night, the city said that it and all defendants don’t admit liability or fault as part of the settlement, the Rockford Register Star ( http://bit.ly/1vVt6g8 ) reported. That includes police officers Stan North and Oda Poole, who chased 23-year-old Mark Anthony Barmore into a basement at House of Grace Daycare and Preschool.
Barmore was wanted for questioning in a domestic abuse case. He was shot in front of children.
A grand jury did not indict the officers and authorities found the shooting justified. However, Barmore’s estate filed a federal lawsuit alleging wrongful death and excessive force.
If the settlement had not been reached, the case would’ve gone to trial, costing the city even more than the $600,000 already spent on litigation fees.
Legal Director Patrick Hayes said a trial also posed the risk of a “runaway verdict” from a jury influenced by recent events surrounding the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York City. Brown and Garner, who were both black and unarmed, were killed by white police officers who were not indicted.
Even if the city won at trial, the verdict could’ve been appealed, which would add more legal fees.
The settlement was reached after lengthy negotiations mediated by retired U.S. Magistrate Judge P. Michael Mahoney.
“The council, I believe, made a good call in resolving the issue,” Mayor Larry Morrissey said.
The lawsuit alleged the officers acted “recklessly and without provocation” when they shot and killed Barmore. It also identified at least one witness who said Barmore was attempting to surrender when he was shot.
Physical evidence supported claims that Barmore tried to take Poole’s gun before he was shot, according to court documents and a city-commissioned report.
Although the city’s independent report determined the shooting was justified, it said the officers used poor tactics and violated Rockford Police Department policies and training.