A day before a lawsuit asserting a White police officer recklessly shot and paralyzed a Black motorist in 2016 was to go to trial, an insurance carrier for the city of Cedar Rapids (Iowa) agreed Monday to pay motorist Jerime Mitchell and his wife $8 million.
The city maintained it was prepared to go to trial and defend the actions of the officer involved in the shooting, Lucas Jones, even though the police department since has fired him. But insurance carrier States Insurance agreed to the deal, without acknowledging fault or liability on the part of the defendants. The settlement is subject to approval by the City Council, reports the Gazette.
“This case has been divisive to our community and it is our hope that we can continue to enhance relationships that build trust between our community and our Police Department,” the city said in a statement. “We all share the desire for a safe community.”
The settlement was announced just days after a Minneapolis jury began deliberating the fate of Derek Chauvin, the former the Minnesota police officer accused of murdering 46-year-old George Floyd by kneeling on his neck. In the wake of Floyd’s killing, Mitchell and his family appeared last summer at a Black Lives Matter protest in Cedar Rapids to demand police reforms.
Mitchell’s attorneys said they believe the $8 million deal with Cedar Rapids is a “record settlement for a police-involved shooting case in Iowa.” In comparison, a federal lawsuit brought by the estate of Autumn Steele, who accidentally was shot and killed by a Burlington police officer in 2015, was settled for $2 million.
Mitchell was shot in the early morning of Nov. 1, 2016, near Coe College. Authorities said Jones stopped Mitchell after spotting a light out on his pickup truck’s license plate.
The two struggled and Mitchell, according to police, drove away with Jones caught on the door. Jones shot Mitchell three times to make him stop, and Mitchell soon crashed.
Police later said Mitchell was in possession of marijuana, a scale and cash, but no charges were filed. Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden brought the shooting to a grand jury, which cleared Jones of any wrongdoing.