The amount of the previously undisclosed settlement between the City of Ferguson, Missouri, and the family of a black teenager fatally shot by the police in 2014 has been revealed by the city's attorney, according to a Friday report by the Associated Press. Michael Brown's family received a $1.5 million settlement from the Missouri city for his death, which was being argued in civil court.
Brown's parents, Michael Brown Sr. and Lezley McSpadden, brought forth the civil suit against the city, former Police Chief Tom Jackson and the officer who killed Brown in 2015, arguing that the police department was hostile toward African Americans and that the officer had used excessive force. When the settlement was initially announced, U.S. District Judge E. Richard Webber approved the deal but did not disclose the amount to be paid. According to NBC News, Webber wrote in his decision on the case that the amount "fair and reasonable compensation for this wrongful death claim and is in the best interests of each Plaintiff," and that the money was to be split between the parents.
This is the latest in a long series of legal actions surrounding Brown's death, which sparked the Black Lives Matter movement and increased attention on police use of force against minorities. Under the Obama administration, the Department of Justice investigated the Ferguson police department and noted severe systemic racism within "nearly every aspect of Ferguson’s law enforcement system." The DOJ also investigated Brown's death itself, but found in 2015 that the Ferguson police officer who shot and killed Brown should be cleared of all criminal charges.
Ferguson reaches settlement with family of Michael Brown, whose shooting by a white police officer sparked unrest https://t.co/ofsYqudl1L— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) June 23, 2017
Brown's family reportedly declined to comment to the Associated Press on the settlement, so there's no word yet on how it will be spent. Part of the legal case for the settlement was that his family was deprived of the financial support from Brown's future wages, indicating that the money may be needed to help cover basic living expenses. According to the Brookings Institute, nearly half of Ferguson lives below 200 percent of the federal poverty level ($23,492 for a family of four in 2012), so it's very possible that Brown's family has serious financial difficulties. Brown left behind two younger sisters and seven step-siblings after his death, who may also benefit from the settlement.
The legal case surrounding Brown's death has ostensibly ended, but the legacy it has built will undoubtedly continue. Just this week, outrage sparked after Seattle police fatally shot Charleena Lyles, a black mother of four who reportedly suffered from mental health issues, with many arguing the case as more evidence of nationwide, systemic discrimination against African-Americans. The societal problems highlighted by Brown's death are still raging nearly three years later, and they'll be much more difficult to adjudicate than the Brown family's settlement.