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Baltimore offers $6.4 million to settle Freddie Gray case

Freddie-Gray-muralBaltimore offers $6.4 million to settle Freddie Gray case

On June 9, 2015, this mural memorializing Baltimore resident Freddie ‘Pepper’ Gray was painted on the wall near the place where he was tackled and arrested by police at the Gilmor Homes housing project in Baltimore, Md. In the wake of protests, demonstrations and riots triggered by the April 19 death of Gray, officials said the city experienced 43 murders last month, its deadliest May since 1970. People who live in Gray’s neighborhood say one of the reasons for the spike in shootings is because police have dramatically increased response time, creating an atmosphere of lawlessness in some of Baltimore’s most crime-affected areas.                   (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

By Ian Simpson    

(Reuters) – Baltimore has reached a tentative $6.4 million settlement with the family of Freddie Gray, a Black man who died from an injury sustained in police custody, city officials said on Tuesday.

The settlement with his family will be submitted to the Baltimore Board of Estimates for a vote on Wednesday, the office of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in a statement. She said it was not an admission of liability.

It will have no effect on the criminal trials of six officers charged with Gray’s death in April, the statement said. His death from a spinal injury sparked protests and rioting, and fueled a U.S. debate on po-lice treatment of minorities.

“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,” Rawlings-Blake said.

She said it would resolve any related civil claims against Baltimore in the Gray case and a-void drawn-out litigation.

Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams last week ordered individual trials for the officers charged in Gray’s death. The charges range from second-degree murder to assault and misconduct.

On Thursday, Williams will hold a hearing to determine whether the trial should be moved from the largely Black city of about 620,000 people because of the uproar over Gray’s death.

The Fraternal Order of Police criticized the settlement since no civil suit had been filed and said it could sour relations between officers and City Hall.

A settlement before the trials “is obscene and without regard to the fiduciary responsibility owed to the taxpaying citizens of the city,” the union said in a statement.

Officers arrested Gray, 25, on April 12 after a foot chase in crime-ridden West Baltimore. He was bundled into a transport van while in handcuffs and shackles and was not secured with a seatbelt.

Gray died a week later from a spinal injury and a medical examiner ruled the death a homicide.

The City Hall statement said Gray’s family would be paid $2.8 million in the current fiscal year and $3.6 million in the one starting July 1, 2016. The Board of Estimates controls city finances, and its five members include the mayor.

The payout would be the latest settlement by Baltimore over allegations of police brutality. Since 2011, the city has paid a total of $5.7 million in police-related court judgments and settlements, the Baltimore Sun reported last year.

(Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago and Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Susan Heavey and Peter Cooney)

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