As expected, the Board of Estimates approved a $6.4 million settlement with the family of Freddie Gray Wednesday morning. That paves the way for the money to be paid to Gray’s family in connection with civil claims.
During a brief hearing, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and other city officials took pains to state that the settlement is not connected to the criminal charges brought against six Baltimore police officers over Gray’s death.
The city routinely pays victims of police brutality cases, but this settlement is notable for the high profile nature of Gray’s case, and the fact that the single settlement represents more money than all of the settlements paid out from 2011-2014. Rawlings-Blake said the money for the settlement would come from funds the city won from other litigation that is not related to the case, and would not affect the criminal case.
Other administration officials joined Rawlings-Blake in support. City lawyer David Ralph told the Board that despite the price tag, it could save the city money. Unlike state claims, he said, federal claims that could be brought against the city do not have a limit on the amount of money the city would have to pay. City Solicitor David Nilson, who sits on the Board of Estimates, said it would avoid having the “scab” of Gray’s death and the unrest that followed his funeral “picked over and over.”
“All of us realize that money cannot bring back a loved one,” Rawlings-Blake said. “But I hope this settlement will bring at least a measure of closure for the family, for the police department and for the city.”
The criminal case, however, will continue to put Gray’s death in the spotlight. The city’s announcement of the settlement came two days before a hearing in the criminal case that will determine whether the trial of the six officers will be held in Baltimore. On Tuesday, Baltimore’s police union criticized the mayor for announcing the settlement before the criminal case was settled.