By Robert Patrick
A federal judge on Tuesday approved a secret civil settlement of the wrongful-death lawsuit filed by the parents of Michael Brown over his 2014 fatal shooting.
The settlement amount is not mentioned in U.S. District Judge E. Richard Webber's order approving it. Webber writes only that the gross amount is "fair and reasonable compensation for this wrongful death claim and is in the best interests of each Plaintiff."
He said the split of the amount between Michael Brown Sr. and Lezley McSpadden "is fair and reasonable," and the agreement "provides for a reasonable amount" for attorney fees and expenses.
Settlements involving public entities are generally open records under Missouri law, but Webber ordered the agreement sealed and said that it should be considered a closed record under the state's Sunshine Law "due to the adverse impact to Plaintiffs should it be disclosed. Disclosure of the terms of the settlement agreement could jeopardize the safety of individuals involved in this matter, whether as witnesses, parties, or investigators. The public policy to consider records open is outweighed by the adverse impact to Plaintiffs," he wrote.
State law does require that the settlement amount be released, however.
The Post-Dispatch reported on Monday that the settlement was near, and that it would be less than $3 million.
Brown Sr. and McSpadden sued the city of Ferguson, former Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson and former police Officer Darren Wilson, who shot Brown, in 2015.
Their lawsuit says that a police culture of pervasive hostility toward African-Americans led to the death of Brown, 18, on Aug. 9, 2014. Wilson used excessive and unreasonable force, the suit says.
Ferguson, Jackson and Wilson denied the claims in court documents. A St. Louis County grand jury declined to indict Wilson, and the U.S. Justice Department declined to prosecute him, saying evidence and "credible" witnesses supported Wilson's claims that Brown attacked him.
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