BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore City has agreed to pay $3.5 million to settle a lawsuit brought by business owners whose businesses were damaged during the unrest that ensued in the wake of the 2015 death of Freddie Gray.
The city and Chae Bros reached the multi-million dollar settlement last month, though it must be approved by the Board of Estimates, Mayor Brandon Scott’s staff confirmed to WJZ. The board is expected to discuss the settlement next week.READ MORE: National Weather Service Confirms EF-1 Tornado Hit Bowie, Second Tornado In Anne Arundel County
“The settlement amount is $3.5 million, which is roughly (half) of the documented economic losses. The Solicitor’s Office believes that this resolution is in the best interests of Baltimore residents,” according to a statement from the mayor’s office.
The lawsuit was brought in 2017 by dozens of businesses in response to millions in damages inflicted on city businesses amid the rioting and unrest that unfolded in April and May of 2015 after the death of Gray, who died in police custody.
Business owners sued the city on the grounds that it violated the Maryland Riot Act, alleging that city officials, including then-Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, failed to prevent the looting and rioting that erupted in the aftermath of Gray’s death.
WJZ spoke with Peter Hwang, the attorney who represented the businesses.READ MORE: ‘It’s Not Working,’ Council Member Frustrated At Relentless Violence In Baltimore As Police Defend Crime Plan
“This lawsuit was not only about compensation but also about giving the plaintiffs a vehicle for their voices to be heard,” Hwang said. “And through this lawsuit and through this development I think their voices were heard loud and clear. The settlement now allows the plaintiffs to finally put everything behind them and move on with our lives.”
Gray was taken into custody about 8:40 a.m. on April 12, 2015, and he was placed unrestrained in the back of a police van. Less than an hour later, he was taken to a hospital where he fell into a coma and died of spinal injuries a week later.
Besides unrest, the 25-year-old’s death led to the arrests of six Baltimore police officers. A mistrial was declared in the case of Officer William Porter and Officers Edward Nero and Caesar Goodson were acquitted in bench trials. Charges were later dropped for the trio and the rest of the officers charged.
People WJZ spoke to in the Penn-North community — which was heavily impacted in the unrest — support the settlement, but now some want to know about help for the average citizen.MORE NEWS: Civil Rights Lawyer Ben Crump Joins Lawsuit Against Baltimore City Public Schools
“The city is not looking at it as a whole,” resident Donald McNeill said. “The whole community has suffered behind this, it’s not just the businesses, it is the people of the community as well.”