Saturday, September 27, 2003

2 families get $3.1M for claims

Kin of shooting victims have most of cop-settlement pool

By Gregory Korte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The family of Timothy D. Thomas will get $1.5 million for the 2001 police shooting death that led to four days of riots in Over-the-Rhine, according to a settlement proposal filed in Hamilton County Probate Court Thursday.

Michael D. Carpenter's estate will get $1.6 million for its wrongful death claim arising out of a 1999 police shooting in Northside.

Both cases were part of a $4.5 million "global settlement" approved by Cincinnati City Council in May. The monetary damages helped settle a racial profiling lawsuit that also resulted in reforms in how Cincinnati police officers use force against suspects.

The individual judgment amounts were secret until Thursday, when the estates of both men filed applications in Hamilton County Probate Court to approve the distribution of the individual settlements.

Both families will pay $500,000 out of their judgments for attorneys' fees, according to the probate filings.

After legal fees in the Thomas case, his mother, Angela Leisure, would receive $700,000 and Thomas' 2-year-old son, Tywon, would get $300,000.

Thomas, 19, was wanted on 14 misdemeanor warrants and was running from police April 7, 2001, when Officer Stephen Roach shot him in an alley off Republic Street in Over-the-Rhine.

In the Carpenter case, parents Elsie A. and Fred L. Carpenter would get $350,000 and $250,000, respectively. A 12-year-old daughter, Tyeisha M. Carpenter, would receive $250,000. Five adult brothers and sisters would get $50,000 each.

Carpenter, 31, was pulled over in a traffic stop in Northside March 19, 1999. Though the facts are still in dispute, two officers said they shot him after his car lurched backward at the officers.

Neither family could be reached for comment. Their lawyers said they were satisfied with the settlements based on the facts of the cases and the odds of winning at trial.

"In more than half the cases that go to trial, the plaintiffs lose. Jurors tend to accept the versions of events given by police, especially when you have a conservative jurisdiction like we have here," said attorney Kenneth L. Lawson.

The settlements mean the remaining 14 plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit over racial profiling will split the remaining $1.4 million, or an average of $100,000. Their claims mostly arose out of allegations of profiling in traffic stops.

City Council has approved issuing bonds to borrow the money to pay the $4.5 million settlement.


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