Outfitting city police with body cameras is a “big deal” to Freddie Gray’s family, their attorney said Wednesday. In voicing support for the $6.4 million civil settlement with the family, Billy Murphy said the family wanted to see improvements in community relations with the police going forward.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is aiming to begin a pilot program later this year for the body-worn cameras, which can record police interactions with citizens and would provide a record of what happened in situations where officers used force. Murphy said the mayor “pledged” to Gray’s family that the program would begin next month in West Baltimore, where Gray was arrested and later died as a result of injuries he sustained in police custody.
“By starting this body camera pilot program in Freddie’s neighborhood, she honors Freddie’s memory. Because we all agree, he should not have died,” Murphy said.
Murphy also referenced body cameras when asked whether the large settlement payout would set a precedent in police brutality cases. He said body cameras would mean that only the “real” cases would come before the city for settlement due to the recorded evidence.
“Knowing that police interactions with the public are recorded will exert what we expect will be a calming effect on the community because both sides are currently suspicious of the other,” Murphy said. “It will prevent situations from escalating and prevent bad outcomes.”
The settlement, which does not pertain to the criminal case against six police officers in Gray’s death, was approved by the Board of Estimates on Wednesday morning. Murphy echoed city officials’ sentiments that the settlement will avoid long litigation.
The Baltimore Sun got a copy of the settlement agreement, which says Gray’s mother Glorida Darden will receive $5.36 million and Gray’s father will receive $640,000. Another $400,000 will go to Gray’s estate. Murphy declined to say how much of the settlement agreement his law firm would receive for legal fees.
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