The family of Freddie Gray is appreciative but still seeking justice, after the city of Baltimore approved a $6.4 million settlement for the death of the 25-year-old Black man at the hands of police.
“This settlement represents an opportunity to bring closure to the Gray family, the community and the city,” Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said. “All of us realize that money cannot, will not—there’s no possibility—bring back a loved one. I hope that this settlement will bring a level of closure for the family, for the Police Department and for our city.”
Gray died in April after he was arrested by Baltimore police officers for having what turned out to be a legal knife. While being transported in a police van, Gray fell into a coma and was taken to a trauma center. Gray had sustained injuries to his spinal cord while he was handcuffed and shackled, resulting in his death.
“We can avoid years and years of protracted civil litigation,” Rawlings-Blake said.
Six Baltimore police officers were temporarily suspended with pay but were later charged with the death. Changes include second-degree murder, assault and manslaughter. All have pled not guilty. Trials are scheduled to begin in October.
A judge recently ruled that the officers will be tried separately, and defense attorneys are asking for a change of venue.
Reports indicate that Baltimore will begin dispersing the settlement, starting with $1.8 million, in 15 days and the rest in the next fiscal year. Gray’s mother is receiving a total of $5.36 million, and his father, Freddie Gray Sr., is being awarded $640,000. The rest is being paid to Freddie Gray’s estate, which will be $400,000.
The president of the Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police, Gene Ryan, openly disagreed with the settlement in the media, saying that the officers involved have not been found guilty in court and no civil suit was filed to begin with.
“To suggest that there is any reason to settle prior to the adjudication of the pending criminal cases is obscene and without regard to the fiduciary responsibility owed to [taxpayers],” he said. “This news threatens to interrupt any progress made toward restoring the relationship between the members of the Baltimore Police Department and the Baltimore city government.”
The settlement is one of the largest in a police brutality case. In July, New York City settled with the family of Eric Garner for $5.9 million. In that case, an officer was videotaped killing Garner, who was unarmed, with an apparent chokehold. A grand jury on Staten Island decided not to charge the officer involved, Daniel Panteleo, for the killing.