A Black driver who was shot by a rookie police officer at a traffic stop is receiving an $80,000 settlement from the city of Lawrence, Kansas.
Akira Lewis claimed that officers used unnecessary force and that he was pulled over because of his race. Following the shooting, Lewis filed a lawsuit against the city, two officers, the police department and the police chief. The lawsuit also alleged that the city and its police department failed to appropriately train and manage officers.
The city has refuted those claims, instead holding Lewis responsible for the incident by maintaining that he acted irrationally, and did not vacate his car when asked.
On May 29, 2018, officers Ian McCann and Brindley Blood pulled Lewis over for violating a seat-belt ordinance. The police dashcam video showed Lewis failing to provide McCann his license and registration and declaring that he was being racially profiled. After Lewis repeatedly asked for a supervisor, and failed to obey the officers’ requests, McCann told Lewis that he is “going to jail,” and tried to physically remove him from the car. Lewis then hit and body slammed McCann. Blood shot Lewis seconds later. The video displays Blood yelling “Taser” before firing her gun; she told investigators afterward that she intended to use her taser but drew her gun in error.
Since the charges are under the Civil Rights Act, the case was relocated from Douglas County District Court to U.S. District Court. Subsequently, the parties decided to dismiss Ian McCann, the other officer involved in the physical altercation, from the lawsuit. The lawsuit accused Blood and McCann of battery, and indicted the officers and the city of Lawrence for negligent infliction of emotional distress.
The city denied Lewis’ allegations, and proceeded to forego liability in the settlement agreement. The settlement says that the parties both recognize that the claims and the lawsuit “were and are vigorously disputed.” It also indicates that the agreement “shall not be construed as an admission of liability, responsibility or fault by the city.”
According to the settlement, the city’s insurance carrier reportedly has agreed to pay $80,000 and the cost of the mediation, specified in court documents to total $3,475. That’s in exchange for a full release of any and all claims against the city and its employees, including those named in the lawsuit.
Lewis pleaded no contest to battery of a law enforcement officer, and was sentenced to 12 months of probation. He must also take anger management classes and pay court costs and other fees.