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Anti Federalist

Ex Marine, unarmed, tasered, shot and killed by cops, case settled for $875,000

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Wilmington settles lawsuit over death of former Marine Derek Hale

Wilmington has settled for $875,000 a lawsuit filed by the widow of a decorated Marine who was shot to death more than three years ago by police during an investigation of the Pagans Motorcycle Club, according to documents filed in federal court.

Papers were filed today to dismiss the federal lawsuit stemming from the November 2006 death of Derek J. Hale.

“This settlement clears Derek’s good name and restores the reputation of this man who was in town collecting Toys For Tots, a Marine tradition,” Wilmington attorney Thomas S. Neuberger said in a statement. “In police talk, this was a ‘bad shoot,’ that is, an unjustified killing that violated Derek’s right to life and liberty under the our Constitution which he fought overseas to defend while serving two tours in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.”
Neuberger was the head of the original legal team which filed a federal civil rights wrongful death lawsuit against 32 named and unnamed Wilmington police officers and Delaware state troopers, the city of Wilmington and the Division of State Police.

The settlement payment will come from Wilmington’s Risk Management Fund and not the city’s General Operating Budget.

“We were very confident in our case and know that our officers acted properly and professionally, particularly given the forensic evidence,” said William S. Montgomery, chief of staff to Mayor James M. Baker. “However, in this circumstance, where the inherent risk of a jury trial could be eliminated for less than the cost of defense, settlement made sense.”

Trial was scheduled to begin in April 2011.

Hale, a 25-year-old former Marine and member of the Pagans Motorcycle Club from Virginia, was sitting on the steps of the Wilmington home of another Pagan when police surrounded him and stunned him with Taser guns before shooting him.

A witness told investigators that Hale said “in a low raspy voice” that he was trying to comply with the officers’ demands to remove his hands from his hooded sweatshirt pockets. Witnesses also said Hale did not appear to pose a threat and had just vomited and was shaking violently from the Taser blasts when then-Lt. William Browne shot him in the chest with three .40-caliber rounds. Browne was later promoted to captain.

Browne was cleared of any wrongdoing in 2007 by the state Attorney General’s Office.