The Baltimore City Law Department will submit a $6.4 million settlement proposal of all civil claims arising from last spring's death of Freddie Gray, Jr. to the Board of Estimates during its regularly scheduled meeting Wednesday morning.
The proposed settlement—of which $2.8 million would be paid during Baltimore City’s current fiscal year and $3.6 million in the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2016— would resolve all civil claims related to the City of Baltimore, the Baltimore Police Department, individual Baltimore police officers, and any other city-affiliated persons or institutions who might be deemed responsible for the death of Gray.
The proposed settlement, which is expected to approved by the Board of Estimates, does not resolve any factual disputes surrounding the events of April 12—the day of Gray’s arrest. It does not constitute an admission of liability on the part of the City, the Baltimore Police Department, or any of the police officers that interacted with Gray, according to a press release from the office of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
The settlement also does not affect the criminal proceedings against the six Baltimore City police officers now underway, city officials said.
"The proposed settlement agreement going before the Board of Estimates should not be interpreted as a judgment on the guilt or innocence of the officers facing trial,” Rawlings-Blake said in a statement. “This settlement is being proposed solely because it is in the best interest of the city, and avoids costly and protracted litigation that would only make it more difficult for our city to heal and potentially cost taxpayers many millions more in damages."
At a separate press conference about an unrelated topic Tuesday morning, Rawlings-Blake said she would not comment further until after the Board of Estimates meeting. The Board of Estimates consists of five voting members: the mayor, president of the City Council, the comptroller, the city solicitor, and the director of Public Works
Baltimore City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young, a member of the Board of Estimates, will vote in favor of the proposed payout, his spokesman Lester Davis said.
“This matter is separate from the criminal cases that are ongoing,” Davis said. “In terms of any civil litigation case, the cost of defending against any claims coupled with the potential for judgments makes this right decision for the taxpayers of Baltimore City.”
According to reporting by The Baltimore Sun, multimillion-dollar wrongful death settlements are rare in the City. Since 2011, only six payments exceeded $200,000 in the more than 120 police brutality-related claims. In all those cases, settlements came after months or years of litigation fights.
Baltimore police officer Caesar Goodson faces the most serious charge—second-degree “depraved-heart” murder—in the death of Gray, who was fatally injured while being transported in a van driven by Goodson. Lt. Brian Rice, Sgt. Alicia White and officer William Porter face manslaughter charges. All six of the officers, which also include Edward Nero and Garret Miller, have been charged with second-degree assault, misconduct and reckless endangerment.
A pre-trial motions hearing for the six police officers—all of whom will be tried separately at this point—is scheduled for Thursday when City Circuit Court Judge Barry G. Williams will decide whether to move the cases out of Baltimore.