The city of Baltimore is slated to pay the family of Freddie Gray– the 25-year-old Black man who died of a severe spinal cord injury in police custody – a settlement of $6.4 million, the Baltimore Sun reports.
The settlement, which stemmed from a civil lawsuit filed by the family after Gray’s unlawful arrest and death in April, is said to be one of the largest in police brutality suits since 2011. According to the Sun, the settlement is “larger than the total of more than 120 other lawsuits brought against the police department for alleged brutality,” in years. The plan is scheduled to be approved by the city’s spending panel on Wednesday, the office of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake confirmed.
“The proposed settlement agreement going before the Board of Estimates should not be interpreted as a judgment on the guilt or innocence of the officers facing trial,” the mayor said in a statement. “This settlement is being proposed solely because it is in the best interest of the city, and avoids costly and protracted litigation that would only make it more difficult for our city to heal and potentially cost taxpayers many millions more in damages.”
Unrest erupted after Gray’s funeral as human rights groups, protesters, activists, and residents of Baltimore City piled into the streets to call for reform of police practices and justice for the young man. Six officers involved in the arrest and transport of Gray have pled not guilty to a range of charges that include assault, false imprisonment, and even murder. A pre-trial motions hearing this week will determine if the six individual trials will be moved out of Baltimore.
The city is accepting all civil liability in Gray’s arrest and death, but does not acknowledge any wrongdoing by the police, according to a statement from Rawlings-Blake’s administration.
The mayor’s office declined to answer questions about the settlement, including why it was brought to the spending panel before any lawsuit was filed.
Under the proposed settlement, the city would pay $2.8 million during the current fiscal year and $3.6 million in next year, the city said. By entering into a settlement, the city would avoid a public lawsuit that could have played out in court. In such city settlements, a clause has stated that both sides cannot talk publicly about the case.
An attorney representing the Gray family has declined to comment on the settlement.