Family of homeless Black man shot 22 times by police settles lawsuit for $3.5m

Mohammed Awal July 27, 2020
demonstrators carry signs in Martinsburg, W.Va., as they protest the killing of Winchester, Va., resident Wayne Jones by Martinsburg police on March 13, 2013. The city of Martinsburg has agreed to settle an excessive force lawsuit filed by the family of Jones, a homeless Black man, who was shot 22 times by police. (Onofrio Castiglia/The Winchester Star via AP, File)

The family of Wayne Arnold Jones, a homeless black man who was shot 22 times by police, has agreed to settle an excessive force lawsuit it brought against a West Virginia city.

Jones was walking on Martinsburg street in March 2013 when police stopped him. He was then shot 22 times after police said the 50-year-old Stephens City, Virginia, resident “shrugged off two jolts from a stun gun, fought with officers and stabbed one of them,” The Journal reported. 

The officers were white and a Berkeley County grand jury refused to indict them in the shooting with the U.S. Justice Department later noting that there was insufficient evidence to pursue criminal civil rights charges against police. 

Earlier this week a three-member federal appeals court panel in Richmond Virginia, quashed the granting of summary judgment to the officers on qualified immunity grounds last month, warning that “would signal absolute immunity for fear-based use of deadly force, which we cannot accept.”

U.S. District Judge Gina Groh dismissed a $200 million lawsuit filed by Jones’ family against the officers and the city, according to the Associated Press, but the appeals panel in its ruling stated that “a reasonable jury could find that Jones was both secured and incapacitated in the final moments before his death.”

“By shooting an incapacitated, injured person who was not moving, and who was laying on his knife, the police officers crossed a ‘bright line’ and can be held liable,” the panel wrote.

According to the attorney for the Jones Family, Christopher E. Brown, the family’s excessive force lawsuit was settled for $3.5 million.

“I promised my mother before she died that we would continue to fight for justice,” Jones’ brother, Bruce Jones, told the Washington Post. “The settlement makes me feel a little bit better, but until I can have a chance to have these cops prosecuted, I am still going to be pushing for justice.”

The Jones family filed a separate appeal in state court seeking a grand jury investigation. “The fact that I could tell my client that we still have a shot at criminal prosecution made the (settlement) figure very acceptable,” Brown said.

In a statement, the city of Martinsburg said, “with this settlement, the City and the MPD hope everyone involved will be able to put this incident behind them and allow the community to heal.”

Meanwhile, the Martinsburg Police Department stated the settlement was not an admission of guilt. In a statement, the police department said the settlement was being carried out by the city’s insurance career to avoid the ongoing costs of litigation along with the stress that a trial would bring to the parties.

Last Edited by:Kent Mensah Updated: July 27, 2020


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