(UPI) — A federal judge approved a secret settlement between the family of Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by a police officer in 2014, and the city of Ferguson, Mo., to conclude a wrongful death lawsuit.
U.S. District Judge E. Richard Webber did not mention the amount when he approved the settlement, though he wrote the gross total is “fair and reasonable compensation for this wrongful death claim and is in the best interests of each plaintiff.”
In the order unveiled Tuesday, Webber also wrote the amount split between Michael Brown Sr. and Lezley McSpadden, Michael Brown’s mother, “is fair and reasonable,” and the agreement “provides for a reasonable amount” for attorney expenses.
Though Missouri law requires settlements involving public entities — in this instance, the city of Ferguson — to be open records, Webber ordered the settlement sealed.
“Disclosure of the terms of the settlement agreement could jeopardize the safety of individuals involved in this matter, whether as witnesses, parties or investigators. The public policy to consider records open is outweighed by the adverse impact to plaintiffs,” Webber wrote.
The settlement amount is less than $3 million, which is the most Ferguson can pay under its insurance, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Brown, 18, was shot in August 2014 by police officer Darren Wilson, who later avoided indictment on charges related to Brown’s death by arguing self-defense, which prompted protests — some violent — in Ferguson.
“I hope that this gives the family some closure and I hope they feel like this gives them a little bit of justice,” Emily Davis, a Ferguson resident who has advocated police reform, told The New York Times. “But I do not feel like the community has justice yet. People’s experiences with the police and the court system are not changing quickly. The city is still not changing openly and willingly.”
After the Brown shooting, the U.S. Department of Justice launched an investigation in which it found numerous instances of racial discrimination within the Ferguson Police Department and court system. The report was followed by the resignations of Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson, Judge Ronald Brockmeyer and City Manager John Shaw.
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