police brutality settlements

His life mattered: After protests and pushback, city settles Smith lawsuit for $2.57 million

More than three years after Marcus Smith, a homeless Black man, died in police custody, the city of Greensboro announced Tuesday that it has settled a wrongful death lawsuit brought by his family for $2.57 million.

Mary Smith sued the city, Guilford County, eight police officers and two paramedics in her son’s controversial death, which has been fuel for those who want to reform Greensboro’s police force.

Video from officer-worn cameras of the September 2018 incident showed an anxious Smith, seemingly in the midst of a mental health episode, on downtown Church Street pleading for help from police before he was restrained, with his hands bound to his feet while lying on his stomach.

The method of extreme restraint — commonly known as “hogtying” — led to his death, a state medical examiner later said.

And it would be the foundation of the lawsuit filed by the Smith family.

Since then, the city has been under immense pressure to settle and spent hundreds of thousands in attorney fees defending various aspects of the case.

Some wondered if a settlement would ever be reached.

But that changed Tuesday.

San Francisco settles suit over police beating for $700,000

The city of San Francisco will pay $700,000 to settle a lawsuit over the brutal beating of a Black man by a baton-wielding police officer who now faces criminal assault charges.

Dacari Spiers sued the city in February 2020 for civil rights violations, false arrest, battery, negligence and supervisor liability. He claims officer Terrance Stangel, who is being prosecuted for assault and other charges, beat him without justification.

Spiers suffered a broken wrist and leg, which required surgery, along with several lacerations that required stitches. He was forced to use a wheelchair during his recovery.

San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, a former public defender who has vowed to hold officers accountable for misconduct, charged Stangel in December 2020 on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury, assault under color of authority and battery with serious bodily injury.

The proposed $700,000 settlement was posted on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Feb. 1 meeting agenda Friday. The board must approve the deal before it can be finalized.

Spiers’ lawyer Curtis Briggs said he believes the settlement is fair, but added the beating was traumatic for his client and emblematic of more widespread problems within the San Francisco Police Department.

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