Man ac­ci­den­tally shot by po­lice gets $200K set­tle­ment

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By CARL HAMILTON ca­hamil­ton@ce­cil­

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.

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