U. of Cincinnati gives family of slain black man $5.3 million. Is that a lot?

Large cash settlements of wrongful death claims are becoming commonplace in many US cities.

Tom Uhlman/AP
Photos of Samuel DuBose hang on a pole at a memorial in Cincinnati, near where he was shot and killed by a University of Cincinnati police officer, July 29. The university on Monday settled a wrongful death lawsuit and agreed to pay the DuBose family $4.85 million and grant free tuition for all 12 of his children, a settlement package worth $5.3 million.

The family of a black man shot dead by a University of Cincinnati police officer who pulled him over in July for not having a front license plate, received a settlement valued at $5.3 million from the school Monday.

To settle the wrongful death lawsuit against the university outside of court, it has agreed to give Samuel DuBose’s family $4.85 million and free undergraduate tuition for his 12 children. It will also establish a memorial commemorating Mr. DuBose and apologize to his family.

"I want to again express on behalf of the University of Cincinnati community our deepest sadness and regrets at the heartbreaking loss of the life of Samuel DuBose," university president Santa Ono said in a statement. "This agreement is also part of the healing process not only for the family but also for our university and Cincinnati communities," he said.

The shooting comes amid heightened scrutiny of police treatment of black men, following a string of deaths at the hands of police officers, from Ferguson to Chicago, that have sparked protests over the past year and a half. The settlement comes amid a growing number of similar financial settlements in cities across the country to avoid or resolve lawsuits and to deter police misconduct, as The Christian Monitor has reported.

Baltimore agreed this fall to pay the family of Freddie Gray, a young black man who died in police custody last April, $6.4 million to head off a potential wrongful death civil lawsuit.

The Freddie Gray settlement is well above the $5.7 million total the city paid to settle all police misconduct cases between 2011 and 2014.

Overall, the 10 American cities with the largest police forces paid out $248.7 million in settlements and court judgments in 2014, up from $168.3 million in 2010, according to The Wall Street Journal.

DuBose was unarmed and black. The officer who shot him, Ray Tensing is white.

Mr. Tensing said that DuBose refused to provide his driver's license and get out after his car was pulled over for not having a front license plate.

A struggle ensued as DuBose tried to drive away, with Tensing firing because he feared being dragged under the car, according to Tensing’s attorney, Stewart Matthews.

However Hamilton County, Oh. prosecutor Joe Deters disputes Tensing's claim that he was being dragged. He said body camera footage of the shooting shows it was "without question a murder," Mr. Deters said.

Tensing has pleaded not guilty to murder and voluntary manslaughter charges, and is free on $1 million bond. A hearing to set his trial date has been scheduled for Feb. 11. If convicted, Tensing faces a possible life sentence.

This report uses material from the Associated Press and Reuters.

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