The city of Sandy and a former police officer have reached a $1 million settlement with the family of a 27-year-old Gresham man who was unarmed, naked, burned and bleeding when police shot him to death in 2005.
The shooting sparked outrage from the family, high-profile media attention and calls for a public inquest even after a grand jury cleared the officers of wrongdoing.
The settlement, entered in U.S. District Court in Portland, means the family of Fouad Kaady has agreed to drop its wrongful death claims against the city and former officer William J. Bergin.
However, the Kaady family is continuing its lawsuit against the other defendants: Clackamas County and Clackamas County sheriff’s Deputy David E. Willard. The case is set for trial in April 2010 before federal Magistrate Judge Paul Papak.
Gerry Spence, a high-profile attorney with a track record of big liability awards, is representing the Kaadys.
The settlement was disclosed Wednesday, a week after Multnomah County agree to pay $925,000 to end an unrelated federal lawsuit by the family of a mentally ill, 42-year-old man who died after suffering injuries during his arrest and a seizure at the county’s detention center. Officers chased and tackled James P. Chasse Jr., after seeing him urinating in downtown Portland.
Sandy City Manager Scott Lazenby said that the settlement with the Kaady family was a “business decision” and that the $1 million would be paid by the city’s insurance carrier. The city admitted no liability.
Edward S. McGlone III, the assistant Clackamas County counsel, declined to comment on the settlement, citing the litigation against the county.
Portland attorney Michelle R. Burrows, who is representing the Kaady family locally, confirmed the settlement but declined to comment.
The 31-page lawsuit, filed in September 2006, alleges that police violated Kaady’s civil rights, used excessive force, then carried out an unconstitutional arrest, as well as causing a wrongful death.
From the outset, Fouad Kaady’s death sparked intense debate over police training and tactics.
Kaady was naked, burned and bleeding when Bergin and Willard confronted him on Sept. 8, 2005, along Southeast 362nd Avenue, a rural road outside Sandy. Kaady, erratic, combative and uncooperative, already had rear-ended three motorists and wrecked the car he was driving.
Witnesses said Kaady was grunting, hooting and howling like a wolf before police arrived.
In an attempt to subdue him, police shot Kaady several times with a stun gun that delivers 50,000 volts of electricity — with little effect.
After Kaady climbed on top of a patrol car, police said they felt their lives were threatened. They shot him seven times.
Critics, led by the Kaady family, said police badly misread the situation. They said Kaady had a history of mental illness but did not take hard drugs. They said he had been transporting a gas can, which caught on fire, causing him to crash his car into another vehicle. He then tore off his clothing to escape the flames and was asking for help.
They said that head injuries suffered in the crash may have contributed to his apparently erratic behavior and that police were woefully unprepared to deal with a mentally ill man. They said police should have been able to wrestle him into submission without resorting to deadly force.
Police, however, said there was no way to know when they were called that Kaady had mental disabilities. They said that when he shook off the Taser, he appeared to be in “excited delirium,” a state in which a person can exhibit superstrength.
Police also said that wrestling with Kaady would have put them in grave danger, that he could have grabbed their sidearms.
A Clackamas County grand jury heard testimony from more than 40 witnesses before declining to bring charges against Bergin and Willard. The sheriff’s Shooting Review Board and the Sandy Police Department also found that the officers acted appropriately.
Both officers returned to duty.
However, Bergin resigned last October when under investigation by the Clackamas County district attorney’s office. He has since pleaded guilty to official misconduct for illegal use of confiscated driver’s licenses.
EXTRA – What happened to Fouad Kaady
EXTRA – 28 Seconds, a film about what happened to Fouad Kaady
EXTRA – The Fouad Kaady files, articles and documents about what happened to Kaady from the Portland Tribune (Sandy Post)