July 10, 2014

City of Charlotte settles lawsuit over police shooting for $115,000

For the second time this year, the City of Charlotte has settled a lawsuit arising from a controversial police shooting – this one involving a 15-year-old who was wounded twice in 2010 as he was rushing to the aid of his injured mother.

For the second time this year, the city of Charlotte has settled a lawsuit arising from a police shooting – this one involving a 15-year-old who was wounded in 2010 as he came to the aid of his injured mother.

The city will pay $115,000 to Jeffery Green. He was shot in October 2010 by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Officer Matthew Wilson, who was responding to the stabbing of Green’s mother, Valinda Streater.

Wilson remains on the force. Green, who recovered from his injuries, is enrolled as a nursing student at Central Piedmont Community College.

Attorneys said both sides are eager to put the legal fight aside.

“While the city believes Officer Wilson’s decision to shoot Jeffery Green was reasonable under the conditions confronting Officer Wilson that night, the city also recognizes that resolution of the matter with a payment of $115,000 is appropriate,” said a joint statement released Thursday by CMPD attorney Mark Newbold.

Will DeVore of Charlotte, the attorney for Green and his mother, said he hopes the settlement sends a message that “when officers use deadly force, they use reasonable judgment.”

He added a conciliatory note: “Officer Wilson was there to help Valinda Streater. There was no malicious intent. It was just a bad situation on a dark night.”

The case, which has bounced around federal court for two years, drew public scrutiny on how police use their weapons. Reflecting the broader community debate, the first trial ended with a deadlocked jury in 2013. The second trial was scheduled to begin in August.

On the night of Oct. 16, 2010, Streater was stabbed by her former live-in boyfriend before she fled into the street. Wilson was the first officer to respond and began walking toward Streater’s home to check on her elderly parents.

Green was walking in the opposite direction. Having heard his mother had been attacked, he carried a kitchen knife.

When he and Wilson met, the officer pulled his weapon and told the youth at least three times to drop the knife, according to court documents. Green, standing more than 30 feet away, didn’t move, nor did he comply with Wilson’s order.

Streater screamed at Wilson not to shoot her son. While other officers on the scene heard her plea, Wilson testified that he did not. He fired twice, then after a pause, twice more. Green was hit two times.

The settlement comes three months after the 4th U.S. Circuit of Appeals, upholding a decision by the trial judge, refused to give Wilson immunity for his actions.

Meanwhile, public scrutiny of the use of deadly force in Charlotte has been on the rise.

• In September, CMPD Officer Randall Kerrick was charged with voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of Jonathan Ferrell. Ferrell, who was unarmed at the time, was hit nine times from close range, police say.

Kerrick will go on trial next year. Ferrell’s family also has sued Kerrick, the police department and the city. Newbold said depositions of the two other officers who witnessed the shooting begin Friday. Kerrick’s attorneys say he acted appropriately.

• Last fall, the Charlotte City Council gave more authority to its Citizen Review Board, which was set up in 1997 to review complaints about police misconduct. Before the changes, critics had argued that the board had no authority and had never supported a resident’s complaint.
• In January, the city paid $700,000 to the family of a cellphone tower repairman fatally shot on the job in 2006 after police were dispatched to a potential break-in.

Using a tone similar to the one it adopted with the Green settlement, the city said in a statement at the time that it was “clear” the repairman was doing his job but that the police officer who shot him had acted “appropriately.”

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