Lawsuit settled in police killing

Deal terms not disclosed

'99 case sparked protest of zero-tolerance policy

`In the city's best interest'

Unarmed man was shot in back of the head after scuffle with officers

October 08, 2002|By Laurie Willis | Laurie Willis,SUN STAFF

The city settled yesterday with the family of Larry J. Hubbard Jr., an unarmed man who was fatally shot by a police officer in October 1999 in an incident that became a rallying point for those opposed to then-mayoral candidate Martin O'Malley's proposed zero-tolerance policing strategy.

City Solicitor Thurman W. Zollicoffer Jr. and lawyers involved in the case would not disclose the settlement amount, saying it is confidential.

Hubbard, 21, was killed three years ago yesterday at Barclay Street and North Avenue in East Baltimore after a scuffle with police, who began chasing him after he ran from an Oldsmobile that had been reported stolen from Montgomery County a few days before.

Hubbard was shot in the back of the head by Officer Barry W. Hamilton after police said he resisted arrest and tried to grab the gun of Officer Robert J. Quick.

Witnesses, however, said the partially handcuffed Hubbard was not resisting arrest and pleaded for his life after the officers beat him.

Eight months after the shooting, a grand jury cleared Hamilton and Quick of criminal wrongdoing, outraging Hubbard's family.

Several investigations were launched into Hubbard's death, including probes by the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, but none resulted in charges.

Hamilton is now a detective in the Southeast District. Quick is a sergeant in the tactical unit.

Four days before the grand jury cleared the officers of wrongdoing in June 2000, Hubbard's relatives filed a $60 million wrongful death lawsuit against the city, state and the officers involved.

Yesterday, the day the trial was scheduled to begin, the two sides reached a settlement.

"They were very prepared and would have been quite happy to go forward," Zollicoffer said of Ron Cherry and Greg Bernstein, who represented the two city police officers. "I think jointly, the two attorneys thought the settlement they suggested was in the city's best interest."

A. Dwight Pettit, lead attorney for Hubbard's family, said he would rather have gone to court, but accepted the settlement. Lawyers Johnnie Cochran Jr., William H. Murphy Jr., Allan Rabineau and Mitchell D. Treger also represented the Hubbard family, which includes his parents, Deborah C. Carr and Larry J. Hubbard Sr. and the mothers of his two children.

"Settlement discussions started seriously about 10 days ago," Pettit said. "I was poised to try the case. We were anticipating 10 days of evidence and testimony. [But] I'm satisfied for my clients."

The case was to have been tried before Judge Marcella A. Holland. Pettit said the judge allowed attorneys to negotiate as late as yesterday morning.

"We said on the record that part of the agreement was the lawyers would make the recommendation that the Board of Estimates would meet [tomorrow], make the recommendation and pay the money within five days from that date."

The board is a city panel that approves spending.

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