The New York Times reported that Philando Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, settled with two police departments for $800,000.
Reynolds live streamed the final minutes of her boyfriend’s life. Officer Jeronimo Yanez shot Castile on a routine traffic stop. She and her daughter were in the car with Castile when Officer Yanez pulled the trigger.
Was Diamond Reynolds paid for Philando Castile’s death?
The short answer is no.
Reynolds’ settlement money attempts to cure the emotional damage she suffered from the ordeal. It also attempts to make restitution for the time she spent in handcuffs after the shooting.
Diamond Reynolds was not married to Philando Castile. Therefore, she cannot file a wrongful death claim on his behalf. Only family members can file wrongful death suits when a loved one dies.
Fear not, though, readers. The League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust settled with Castile’s mom in June for 2.995 million dollars.
Is $800,000 enough?
$800,000 is a lot. It is still a lot even if Reynolds’ attorney takes 30%-45% of the settlement. Let me tell you why.
First, the settlement came pretty quickly. Lawsuits against cities or police departments often drag on for years. Civil litigation cases go through a process called “discovery” during which each party learns what evidence the other party has. Lawyers take depositions. They hire experts. They file motions to dismiss.
It. Takes. A. Long. Time. To. Get. To. Trial.
Diamond Reynolds’ settlement skipped all of that. The St. Anthony Village (MN) Mayor, Jerry Faust, said, “If we don’t approve this and we go ahead with litigation, it would just reopen the whole case again and bring heartache to everyone involved. . .”
The decision-makers, in this case, decided that it was more important to send the community a message (let’s move forward and get along) than fight the case in court.
Next, by avoiding trial, Reynolds avoided playing verdict roulette. You’ve never heard of that game? Oh, ok. Let me tell you about it.
Verdict roulette is the game all plaintiff’s play when they go to trial. Some juries find for the plaintiff and award generous awards. Other juries find for the defendant, and the plaintiff gets nothing. Other juries still, may find for the plaintiff but give unexpectedly small awards.
It’s hard to bet on juries. They let a lot of people down. Diamond Reynolds avoided the gamble by accepting a settlement offer.
Nothing will bring Philando Castile back. I can’t imagine the heartache his family endures every day. But, the city has done just about as much as it can do to mend bridges with his family and the community.
The city could have fought Reynolds’ claims. It might even have won. But instead of doing that, it decided to try to make it right with Castile’s family. Because of that, I think this settlement is generous and adequate.
If you are still feeling hot under the collar about all this, try to remember that it takes two to settle a case. The city didn’t trick Reynolds into settling. It also didn’t force her into settling. She accepted this settlement of her own free will and accord.
That’s good enough for me.