Arundel settles suit

Dead man's kin to get $90,000

December 18, 2008|By Julie Scharper | Julie Scharper,julie.scharper@baltsun.com

The family of a naked, unarmed man who was fatally shot by an Anne Arundel rookie police officer in 2005 will be paid $90,000 by the county, according to a source familiar with the settlement agreement.

Relatives of Donald E. Coates Jr., the 20-year-old Glen Burnie man who was killed, sued the county for $20 million in June, alleging that Officer Tommy Pleasant acted with "malice" and that the shooting was unjustified.

"They felt that there were a number of factors in the case that indicated that Donald Coates wasn't in a position that he could have caused any harm to this officer," said James L. Rhodes, a lawyer representing the family.

Coates was apparently high on drugs and delusional when police were called to his home May 24, 2005. He fired shots inside the house and then jumped out of a window, stripped and hid behind a utility box.

Officers ordered Coates to surrender, but he ran toward Pleasant, 22, who had been on the police force for nine months. The officer shot Coates four times.

A grand jury did not indict Pleasant on criminal charges, and he remains on the force.

County Attorney Jonathan Hodgson declined to discuss the details of the agreement but said that the settlement would be finalized next week and would bring the case to a close.

U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz signed off on the settlement this week, Rhodes said.

The family members who brought the lawsuit - Coates' parents and the mothers of his two children - remain "very distraught," Rhodes said.

"The emotion from the family made it seem as if it just happened yesterday," he said.

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