After nearly two years after filing suit, Michael Brown’s parents Lezley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr. reached a settlement this week to conclude their wrongful death claim against the city of Ferguson, Missouri, and the former police officer who killed their unarmed son.
The Associated Press reported yesterday (June 21) that judge E. Richard Webber of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri approved a settlement for McSpadden and Brown Sr.’s civil suit on Tuesday (June 20). The 2015 lawsuit listed the city, former police chief Thomas Jackson and White ex-officer Darren Wilson—who shot and killed the Black 18-year-old in 2014—as defendants. McSpadden and Brown Sr. originally sought $75,000 to compensate in part for lost financial support that their son would have provided if he had lived. Webber did not comment on the settlement amount, but an anonymous source told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that it falls below the city’s $3 million settlement limit.
The lawsuit, published in full by the Post-Dispatch, alleged that Wilson used unnecessary force against Brown and accused the Ferguson Police Department of incubating anti-Black racism. Ferguson, Jackson and Wilson denied the allegations, and neither they nor McSpadden or Brown Sr. have publicly commented on the settlement since its approval.
Brown’s violent death prompted ongoing local and national activism against police violence in Black communities. Both a St. Louis County grand jury and the Department of Justice (DOJ) failed to indict Wilson for Brown’s death, but the DOJ and city reached a consent decree to reform Ferguson’s entire criminal justice system. An emailed press release from the Ferguson Collaborative advocacy group confirmed that Webber’s fellow U.S. District judge Catherine Perry heard community input on the decree’s implementation at a public hearing today. Current DOJ head Jeff Sessions recently ordered a review of all consent decrees with an eye to reducing federal oversight of police departments with poor civil rights records.