By CATHERINE PALMER
The City of Baltimore plans to pay $6.4 million to the family of Freddie Gray in a wrongful death settlement, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced Tuesday.
The Baltimore Board of Estimates, which controls the city’s spending, voted 5-0 in approval of the settlement on Wednesday. Per the settlement, the city will pay $2.8 million to Gray’s family this fiscal year and $3.8 million in 2016.
In the settlement, the city accepts all civil liability in Gray’s arrest and death. The settlement does not affect the criminal charges faced by the six Baltimore Police Department (BPD) officers implicated in Gray’s death.
“The city’s decision to settle the civil case should not be interpreted as passing any judgment on guilt or innocence of the officers. This settlement is about making the right fiscal decision for the city of Baltimore,” Rawlings-Blake, who sits on the Baltimore Board of Estimates, said in press conference Wednesday.
“Faced with the prospect of significant legal expenses involved in an extended federal lawsuit as well as potential liability that could come with an unfavorable jury verdict, our city’s attorneys came to the conclusion that the $6.4 million settlement is in the best interest of protecting taxpayers. I ultimately agreed with that recommendation.”
However, Rawlings-Blake explained that fiscal and legal concerns were not the only considerations made when reaching the settlement.
“The purpose of the civil settlement is to bring an important measure of closure to the Gray family, to the community and to the city,” she said.
The settlement was reached without Gray’s family having filed a wrongful death suit against the city.
Gray, 25, died in April from severe spinal cord injuries, one week after being arrested by BPD officers. His death sparked more than a week of both peaceful and violent demonstrations.
The Hopkins Black Student Union (BSU) released a statement expressing its mixed opinions regarding the settlement.
“While we are happy that Baltimore is taking the right steps in righting this terrible wrong, we recognize that life is priceless and $6.4 million is not enough for one’s life. The main focus of the government should be to indict the cops who murdered Freddie so that his death will not go unpunished like the thousands of black individuals who have died at the hands of cops before him,” junior Tiffany Onyejiaka wrote in an email to The News-Letter on behalf of the BSU.