The family of a Baton Rouge man fatally shot by police in 2011 could soon receive several hundred thousand dollars in the settlement of a lawsuit with the city-parish.
The Metro Council is expected to vote later this month on whether to approve the proposed settlement, which would pay the family of Carlos Harris Jr. about $425,000 if the most recent agreement holds, court records show.
Harris, 23, was shot on March 6, 2011, while driving his friend’s vehicle in the crowded parking lot of Club Insomnia near Airline Highway and Florida Boulevard. He was driving the vehicle because his friend, Ryan Dominique, had just been stopped by police officers for driving erratically.
Police have said Dominique requested that Harris take the car from the club.
In the civil suit filed in January 2012, Harris’ attorneys allege that police forced Harris to drive the car without checking to see whether he was intoxicated. Harris did not have a valid driver’s license and had been drinking inside the club that night, the suit says.
The suit also alleges the car had mechanical problems at the time, which contributed to Harris’ inability to control it in the parking lot that night.
The suit says the vehicle lurched back and forth after Harris began driving it, striking two police cars and several other vehicles. The last time Harris drove the vehicle forward, police officer Christopher Magee fired three shots into it. One struck Harris in the chest, and he later died at a hospital.
A grand jury in November 2011 cleared Magee of any criminal wrongdoing in the shooting. An internal investigation by the department also determined Magee acted properly in the incident.
Harris’ family sued on his behalf claiming wrongful death and other allegations, including Magee and the Police Department lacked proper training. A third-party mediator eventually suggested a settlement of $495,000, but the city-parish Claims Review and Human Resources Advisory Committee rejected that deal, said Lea Anne Batson, the acting Parish Attorney.
The city-parish countered with a $350,000 deal, which was rejected by Harris’ attorneys, Batson said.
The amount expected to be voted on is $425,324, according to a Metro Council meeting agenda.
“We appreciate the parish attorney’s recommendation of a settlement to the Metro Council,” said Jim Clary Jr., one of the attorneys representing Harris’ family. “And it will provide at long last some justice to a family in what has been a very difficult situation for everybody concerned.”
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