A federal judge approved a civil settlement on Tuesday in the wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Ferguson, former police chief Thomas Jackson, and former police officer Darren Wilson. Although the amount of the settlement awarded to Michael Brown’s parents remains sealed, sources have reported that the settlement is less than $3 million.
Shortly after noon on August 9, 2014, Officer Wilson responded to a call reporting a robbery at a nearby convenience store when he spotted Michael Brown, 18, and Dorian Johnson walking down the street, matching the description of the suspects. According to the Department of Justice investigation, Brown and Wilson began struggling for the officer’s gun inside the vehicle when Wilson fired a shot.
As Brown and Johnson fled, Wilson exited his vehicle and began pursing them until Brown stopped. Despite the fact that witnesses asserted Brown had placed his hands in the air, the DOJ investigation concluded that Brown had been charging towards Wilson when the officer fired the fatal shots at Brown.
In response to the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager, massive protests erupted across the nation demanding social justice reform as police arrested journalists covering the riots in Ferguson. In March 2015, the Justice Department announced that no federal criminal charges would be filed against Wilson while releasing a scathing report revealing systemic racism throughout the government of Ferguson, Missouri.
According to the DOJ report, the police in Ferguson disproportionately stopped, arrested, cited, and used force on black residents while exchanging racist emails between officers and court officials. After analyzing the Ferguson Police Department’s data on stops, searches, and arrests between 2012 and 2014, the Justice Department discovered that blacks accounted for 85% of all traffic stops, 90% of citations received, and 93% of people arrested were black.
In order to generate revenue for the city, Ferguson police officers engaged in contests to impose the highest number of unfair fines on black residents. According to then-Attorney General Eric Holder, officers regularly violated the First, Fourth, and 14th Amendments without consequence while charging black residents with unlawful allegations, including “manner of walking along roadway.”
Accused of approving the creation of additional abusive and unlawful fees against black residents, Municipal Court Judge Ronald Brockmeyer resigned after the DOJ released their report. Viewing Ferguson residents as merely sources of revenue, City Manager John Shaw also stepped down in the wake of the report. In connection with the racist emails, police officers Capt. Rick Henke and Sgt. William Mudd resigned while the city’s top court clerk, Mary Ann Twitty, was fired.
Several months after the shooting, Wilson resigned from the Ferguson Police Department amid calls for his termination and criminal prosecution. Shortly after the Justice Department released their report, Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson announced his resignation as well.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge E. Richard Webber approved an undisclosed settlement for a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of Michael Brown. According to the suit, Wilson fired the initial round as Brown fled from him and later told his supervisor at the scene that the teen had his hands up in the air during the shooting.
Although the amount of the settlement remains sealed by Judge Webber, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has reported that Brown’s parents will receive less than $3 million because that is the limit of the city’s insurance.