The parents of a suicidal black teenager who was fatally shot by police in Nevada in 2020 have agreed to a $2 million settlement with the city of Sparks that also includes extensive crisis intervention and mental health training. for police officers.
The city of about 110,000 on the edge of Reno said in a statement Monday it hopes the agreement will help bring “closure” to all parties.
Miciah Lee, 18, Sparks, had no criminal history and was not wanted for any crime when a white officer shot him five times as he sat in his car with a gun between his legs and in his hands seen on January 5, 2020, his family’s attorney, Terri Keyser-Cooper, said.
But he said Lee had a long history of mental illness and drug abuse, and that the officers’ rush to violence defied whatever limited training they had received to diffuse such confrontations.
Lee’s mother, Susan Clopp, called 911 before the shooting and told the dispatcher three times that her son was “mentally unstable,” had a gun and intended “to die by the police or he will die alone.”
One of the officers who responded to the scene after Lee fled the first attempt to confront him and crashed in a suburban neighborhood said in an affidavit filed in US District Court last year before the settlement talks that they “did everything they were trained not to do. with mentally ill people.”
A federal judge ordered mediation and the parties said last month they had reached a settlement. The city insurance The company completed the final installment of the $2 million payment on May 18, attorney Keyser-Cooper said.
“The size of this settlement speaks volumes,” Keyser-Cooper said, noting that Lee would still be alive if he were white.
“I am very encouraged that Sparks has pledged to provide its officers with additional training, along with oversight to ensure that officers act in accordance with their training, and a tragedy like this does not happen again,” he said in a statement on Friday.
As part of the settlement, Keyser-Cooper said Sparks agreed that all officers would receive 40 hours of Crisis Intervention Training and that every year all Sparks police officers would receive refresher training.
In addition, each officer receives annual training in several additional new policies including: Use of Force, Suicidal Subject Response, and Interacting with People Suffering From Issues in Behavioral Health, he said.
The city of Sparks confirmed in a statement emailed to The Associated Press on Monday that the city insurance carrier hired outside counsel to handle the case and that the parties agreed to settle it for $2 million during a settlement conference in Las Vegas.
“The City of Sparks hopes that all parties involved will find closure following this settlement,” the statement said.
About six months after the shooting, Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks cleared the Sparks police of any wrongdoing. His office is not part of the civil suit and declined to comment on the settlement Monday.
The lawsuit filed in 2022 alleges that Lee’s death was an unjustified homicide that resulted from a “police culture in Sparks” — a “poorly trained police department that has a history of for failing to investigate, analyze, or even talk to any officers involved in. any police shootings in the last 15 years.”
The lawsuit also alleges that the Sparks Police Department failed to adequately train officers on how to deal with the mentally ill and systematically, failed to de-escalate as needed when interacting with the mentally ill. mental.
Former Sparks Police Chief Peter Krall testified that the responding officers knew what they were supposed to do and their behavior in failing to apply their training was an “aberration.”
“However, this is anything but an aberration: It is an all-too-predictable consequence of system-wide failures,” Keyser-Cooper wrote in the original lawsuit.
“This is consistent with a pattern endemic to the SPD – but also throughout the country – that, when encountering people with mental illness, officers often choose violence as their first resort,” he said.
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