Ferguson to pay $3M for naked, unarmed man's stun gun death

AP News
|
Posted: Feb 03, 2017 6:19 PM

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The city of Ferguson, Missouri, has dropped its appeal of a federal jury's $3 million award to survivors of a naked, unarmed, black man who died after a police officer repeatedly shocked him with a stun gun and will pay the money, court filings show.

A federal judge in St. Louis, after a brief hearing Wednesday, deferred his approval of the settlement until March 1, giving additional time for Jason Moore's survivors to structure how his 18-year-old son's 35-percent stake of the deal will be paid. Moore's wife and mother also are part of the settlement with the St. Louis suburb, ex-officer Brian Kaminski and former police Chief Thomas Jackson.

It's unclear why the city agreed to settle for the same amount as what jurors awarded Moore's family in November — a verdict that Ferguson had been appealing, calling it "a miscarriage of justice" and worthy of a new trial. A Ferguson spokesman said Friday the city had no comment.

The family's lawsuit insisted Moore was suffering from a psychological disorder when police confronted him in September 2011 as he ran nude down a street yelling "God is good" and "I am Jesus" at passing vehicles.

Moore, 31, died after Kaminski, who is white, repeatedly shot him with a stun gun. Kaminski was never charged.

While labeling Kaminski's actions unjustified, the lawsuit cast Ferguson police as frequently wrong in deploying stun guns on people with medical issues.

On appeal, Ferguson city attorneys called the verdict "improper, invalid and against the weight of the evidence," insisting Kaminski's actions were "reasonably necessary" and that Moore charged at the officer "while displaying erratic behavior." Attorneys for Moore's family reject that Moore "charged" Kaminski and say Kaminski's testimony was contradicted by another officer who responded.

The lawsuit was filed in the wake of the fatal 2014 police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who also was black and unarmed. Brown's death in Ferguson led to sometimes-violent protests and was a catalyst for the national Black Lives Matter movement. More unrest came after a St. Louis County grand jury declined to indict Darren Wilson, the white officer who killed Brown. The U.S. Department of Justice also cleared Wilson, concluding he acted in self-defense.