Man accidentally shot by police gets $200K settlement
PORTSMITH, VA. — A Newark, Del., man has been awarded a $200,000 settlement in a lawsuit, stemming from a June 2014 incident in which a Virginia police officer accidentally shot him in the chest while trying to serve a warrant in an Elkton burglary case, City of Chesapeake (Va.) officials confirmed Wednesday.
The plaintiff, Michael Lee Smith, 30, had filed a $2.85 million lawsuit, alleging that Chesapeake (Va.) Police Department Officer Elliott Boyd Jr. acted with negligence, gross negligence and in a willful and wanton fashion when he shot Smith as he walked from a Walmart in Portsmouth, Va., to his mother’s nearby house on June 12, 2014.
Boyd, now a 28-year veteran with that Virginia police agency, was trying to arrest Smith on a fugitive warrant taken out by the Elkton Police Department at the time. In that Cecil County case, Smith was charged in connection with a May 25, 2014, burglary in Elkton in which guns were stolen.
According to Cecil County Circuit Court records, prosecutors dropped their criminal case against Smith on Aug. 8, 2014. Smith had stood charged of firstdegree burglary, third-degree burglary and theft of property valued at more than $1,000 and less than $10,000 in that case, court records show.
After spotting Smith in Portsmouth on June 12, 2014, Boyd, who was operating as a joint task force member, accidentally fired his gun as he was getting out of his unmarked car, police reported.
The gun accidentally discharged as Boyd, who is left-handed, was shifting the firearm to his right hand so he could open his car door, police said. The bullet ripped through the windshield of his car and wounded Smith in the chest, police added.
At the time that he was shot, Smith was unarmed — with a cigarette in his left hand and a plastic bag in his right, police reported.
Following protocol that applies whenever an officer shoots someone in the line of duty, prosecutors reviewed the case, before declining to file criminal charges against Boyd.
Prosecutors concluded that, although Smith did not provoke the shooting, Boyd was justified to be on high alert and draw his weapon because Smith’s fugitive warrant indicated that he stood charged of stealing guns.
Moreover, prosecutors also concluded that Boyd accidentally shot Smith and that there was no evidence of gross negligence. Boyd still works for the police department.
Although the accidental shooting caused no repercussions on the criminal court and law enforcement administrative levels, Smith later filed a $ 2.85 million complaint against Boyd and the police department in civil court.
Late last week, before Smith’s civil case made it to trial, Chesapeake officials agreed to pay him $ 200,000 to settle the lawsuit, the city’s attorney, Jan Proctor, told the Cecil Whig on Wednesday.
Proctor reported that, as one of the conditions of the settlement, there was no admission of wrongdoing on the part of Boyd and the police agency. She declined further comment.