Albuquerque Family Settles With City For $5 Million After Fatal 2014 Shooting


The city of Albuquerque has reached a $5 million settlement with the family of Mary Hawkes, a 19-year-old woman who was shot and killed by police during a foot chase in 2014.

The settlement resolves the lawsuit filed by her family against both the city and then-officer Jeremy Dear, and concludes a case that was controversial from the start.

Hawkes was killed just days after the Department of Justice announced the city’s police department had a pattern of using excessive – and deadly – force, and the Hawkes family alleged that the police department’s “structural and systemic deficiencies” led to her killing.

Shannon Kennedy, the family’s attorney, confirmed Wednesday that the case had settled, though documents have not yet been finalized or filed with the court.

Gilbert Gallegos, APD spokesman, said that the city “reached a preliminary settlement agreement of $5 million to settle all claims related to the Hawkes case.” Gallegos said the city was glad to see a resolution to the longstanding claim.

Dear’s attorney, David Roman, did not respond to a request for comment. In a statement, the Hawkes family said the shooting left them to wonder whether they could have done anything to save their daughter and sister.

“The family is very grateful that the city also recognizes that burden and is moving forward in the same spirit of accountability,” the statement said. “In the Hawkes family’s quest for answers about Dear’s killing of Mary on April 21, 2014, they have sought the truth and to ensure no family suffer a similar loss.”

They said they are confident that the new administration will work to improve APD’s culture in order to prevent similar tragedies in the future.

“To facilitate overdue change, the Hawkes are committed to donating a significant percentage of the settlement to organizations that prioritize crisis intervention training for law enforcement and that support the transition of foster children into adulthood,” the statement said. Organizations that they plan to donate to include El Ranchito de Los Ninos, Casa Hermosa, All Faiths Advocacy Center and the Crisis Intervention Team.

Dear has said he fired his gun after Hawkes pointed a gun at him while he was chasing her through Southeast Albuquerque, but his lapel camera was unplugged during the encounter and did not record. Dear fired five times, hitting Hawkes with three rounds.

The Hawkes family argued in their lawsuit that scientific evidence did not support Dear’s version of events. The bullet trajectories, they said, showed the “impossibility of his account” and Hawkes’ fingerprints and DNA were not present on the gun found at the scene.

City officials, the family alleged, “readily accepted former Officer Dear’s wholly implausible explanation of the killing, leaving only the bereft Hawkes family to search for the truth.”

The settlement comes months after 2nd Judicial District Judge Nan Nash granted the family’s request seeking sanctions against the city for failing to preserve vital evidence surrounding the shooting. Nash also said the jury would be instructed that the shooting was unreasonable as a matter of law.

Dear was fired from APD in December 2014 for failing to follow orders to video record all citizen interactions. APD says he was ordered to do so after the department received several citizen complaints about him. Last week, a judge ruled that Dear would not get his job with APD back, finding that termination was appropriate because Dear had been insubordinate.

Source: https://www.abqjournal.com/1120552/hawkes-family-settles-lawsuit-fatal-apd-shooting.html

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Wrongfully Convicted Man in Fatal Brooklyn Shooting Settles With City For $9.5M


A wrongfully convicted man is settling his case against New York City for $9.5 million.

Ruddy Quezada — who lived through 24 years in lock up for a fatal Brooklyn shooting he said he had no part in — reached a deal on Thursday, according to Brooklyn Federal Court papers.

In April, Quezada settled a separate case against New York State for $4.5 million.

That brings Quezada’s total payout for the two decades he’s lost to $14 million.

“I’m very happy that this settlement will allow Ruddy to live the rest of his life in peace and comfort after the nightmare he endured,” said his attorney, David Shanies.

“Even $14 million can’t give him back 24 years, but this is a just resolution to a very troubling case.”

A Law Department spokesman said “resolving the case was in the city’s best interest.”

Quezada, 55, was convicted of murder in 1993 for allegedly ordering a deadly drive-by shooting of Jose Rosado two years prior.

He maintained his innocence when he was tried by Brooklyn prosecutors, under District Attorney Charles Hynes.

The case used testimony from a man named Sixto Salcedo — who went back on his word years later.

Salcedo said Quezada was in the car when the shooting took place.

Three other witnesses also told the feds that Quezada was not in there, as Salcedo claimed, but did order the hit on Rosado.

Salcedo recanted in 2001. He claims he felt coerced into what he said on the stand because he was held in a Queens hotel on a material witness warrant the night before he testified.

During the trial, prosecutors withheld the details Salcedo’s secret overnight stay.

Quezada was released in August 2015, when prosecutors for Hynes’ successor, the late Ken Thompson, vacated his case.

Thompson’s office uncovered a 2004 email that confirmed an appeals prosecutor knew about Salcedo being stashed away at a hotel.

The prosecutor previously said she didn’t know anything about the witness warrant.

That led Thompson to determined they couldn’t stand by the conviction any longer.

Quezada walked out of court a free man that day, while the appeals prosecutor was shown the door.

He is the latest person to resolve a Brooklyn wrongful conviction civil rights case, at a steep cost to the city.

Last month, city lawyers stipulated to a $2.5 million settlement with Joel Fowler, who served eight years for a murder rap that was cleared.

A month before that, Andre Hatchett settled his case for $12.25 million, after being incarcerated 25 years.

And even earlier this year, the city said it would pay out $26 million to two men cleared of triple homicide.

Source: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/wrongfully-convicted-man-settles-nyc-9-5m-article-1.3686699

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Philando Castile‘s Girlfriend Settles With St. Anthony For $800,000


The city of St. Anthony has agreed to a second legal settlement over the fatal shooting of Philando Castile by one of its police officers. And this time, with its insurance coverage all but used up, any settlement would largely come from city coffers.

The St. Anthony City Council on Tuesday night voted to pay $675,000 to settle legal claims brought by Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her daughter. The pair was in the car with Castile when he was shot to death during a traffic stop by then-St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez on July 6, 2016.

Before the unanimous vote to approve the settlement, Mayor Jerry Faust said he hoped it would “open the door to continued healing in our community.”

“If we don’t approve this and we go ahead with litigation, it would just reopen the whole case again and bring heartache to everyone involved,” Faust said. “It is best to settle.”

The council’s resolution approving the settlement said, in part, that it resolves any claims related to the alleged detention of and use of force against Reynolds and her daughter, and any claims of racial discrimination or emotional distress.

“While no amount of money can change what happened, bring Philando back, or erase the pain that my daughter and I continue to suffer,” Reynolds said in a statement to WCCO, “I do hope that closing this chapter will allow us to get our lives back and move forward.”

St. Anthony has a $3 million “per occurrence” cap on its insurance policy covering payments like this one through the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust, but a settlement with Castile’s family in June used up $2.995 million of that.

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Weehawken Settles Elderly Woman’s Police Brutality Suit For $75K


The Township of Weehawken settled an elderly woman’s police brutality lawsuit for $75,000 back in August, where the accused officer is contributing $5,000 out of his pocket.

In a 13-count federal lawsuit filed on January 20th, 2016, Weehawken resident Maria Tullo, 65 at the time, alleges that Police Officer Robert Jacobson infringed on her property and called her a “b****,” a “guinea c***,” and other vulgar names.

The incident, which allegedly occurred on April 25th, 2014 around 8 a.m., escalated to the point where Tullo was repeatedly struck, beaten and choked, before a neighbor called the police, the lawsuit says.

Police Sgt. Conrad Hablitz, Office Randy Hablitz, Officer Christopher Majewski and Officer Edward Vion then arrived at the scene around 8:15 a.m., who are then accused of detaining Tullo without probably cause.

“As a result of this incident, Plaintiff Maria Tullo sustained serious and permanent injuries as well as psychological and emotional trauma, fear and humiliation,” the suit says.

“She has suffered permanent damages due to the discriminatory acts and unlawful conduct of the Defendants mentioned herein.”

Through the suit, Tullo also alleged that she tried to file complaints against Jacobson with Weehawken police on at least four separate occasions, but city and police officials turned her away.

Furthermore, Tullo claimed that Jacobson had previously been indicted on assault charges in February 2000.

As a result of the alleged situation, Tullo said her civil rights were violated, and that she was a victim of assault and battery/excessive force, conspiracy, malicious prosecution, negligence, negligent supervision and a respondeat superior.

The settlement, in which none of the defendants admit any wrongdoing and also carries a confidentiality clause, says that Tullo will received $70,000 from the township’s insurance carrier and $5,000 to be paid for by Jacobson personally.

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[WATCH] Family of Disabled Woman Settles Lawsuit But Says Livonia Police Refused to Apologize


LIVONIA, Mich. – A young woman with special needs says she thought she was going to die after police officers threw her to the ground and handcuffed her inside the Livonia Walmart.

When the Kozma family couldn’t get an apology from Livonia police, they sued the city and Walmart.

Those lawsuits have now been resolved, but the Kozma’s are upset that more isn’t being done to make sure this never happens again.

Jodi Kozma’s parents say what should have been a simple shopping trip, turned into their daughter being traumatized by a false accusation of shoplifting, and an aggressive and unnecessary arrest.

“What died with me that day, was just seeing the heartbreak that she suffered,” said Wendy Kozma.

She says her daughter may be 27-years-old, but due to a birth defect, she has the mental capacity of an 8-year-old. Jodi’s parents are her legal guardians, and they make sure Jodi is always accompanied by a family member on outings.

The Kozma’s have always stressed to their daughter that if someone ever tries to harm her she should find the nearest police officer.

“That was broken in an instant. In an instant,” said Wendy Kozma.

On August 3, 2012, Jodi’s grandma and aunt took her to the Livonia Walmart. But store loss prevention officers thought they saw Jodi putting a package of hair ties in her waistband.

In fact, Jodi had paid for those $3 hair ties, but that didn’t stop Walmart’s security team from calling the cops.

“She took nothing! She’d done nothing wrong,” said attorney Deborah Gordon.

Gordon says instead of calmly talking to family members or to Jodi, within ten seconds Livonia police officers were on top of Jodi, handcuffing her.

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Without Admitting Wrongdoing Miami Beach Settles Taser Death of Teen Street Artist


Miami Beach officials have settled a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of Israel Hernandez-Llach, the 18-year-old street artist who died on Aug. 6, 2013 after he was shot in the chest with a Taser fired by a city cop who was chasing him for scrawling graffiti on a wall.

The teen’s death generated national media coverage regarding the use of Tasers by police in handling suspects and intense scrutiny of the Miami Beach Police Department, which two years earlier had faced widespread criticism over the shooting death of a suspect and the wounding of four bystanders on Memorial Day Weekend in 2011.

Within weeks of Hernandez-Llach’s death, his parents and sister sued the city, alleging Miami Beach cops used “wrongful, unnecessary and unreasonable force” to detain the young man and then failed to provide him with proper medical care when he showed signs of distress.

According to court affidavits releasing the city and the police officers involved in the incident from any claims, Miami Beach officials expressly deny liability, but agreed to pay $100,000 to Hernandez-Llach’s father, Israel Hernandez Bandera, his mother Jacqueline Luz Llach and his sister Offir Hernandez Llach. Florida Bulldog obtained the affidavits, signed by the three surviving relatives on Aug. 3, last week through a public records request.

“The City of Miami Beach made the decision to resolve this lawsuit,” said deputy city attorney Aleksandr Boksner. “We believed this to be the best course of action in this matter.” Under Florida’s sovereign immunity law, governmental agencies are only required to pay up to $200,000 to the families of individuals injured or killed by municipal negligence.

Todd Falzone, a Fort Lauderdale attorney representing Hernandez-Llach’s family, did not return three phone messages seeking comment. Hernandez Bandera, who divorced Llach in 2009, said that he, his ex-wife and their daughter decided to settle after determining it would have cost them more money to take the case to trial than any amount they would be entitled to had they prevailed. He also said the family did not want to go through the pain of putting the officers on the stand so they could continue to give misleading statements about their role in killing Hernandez-Llach.

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