VALLEJO, Calif. (KRON) – It is one of the largest financial settlements in a police shooting of an unarmed Black person here in the Bay Area.
But Vallejo city officials say the resolution is not an admission of guilt.
However, the family attorney of the deceased says the multi-million dollar settlement signifies a turning point in consequences for officers who take a life.
The $5.7 million settlement reached in the 2018 Vallejo police shooting death of Ronell Foster is more than significant.
“May be the largest for an African American male that was killed in this area,” John Burris said.
Civil rights attorney John Burris says the police body cam video was extremely important as evidence in this case.
“This is a situation of a cop generated event. The man was riding a bicycle at night. Literally minding his own business. This police officer decided that he wanted to stop him and ask him questions about where he’s been and where he is going. Mr. Foster was like I didn’t do anything and walked away. The officer chases him down in a back alley. Hit him with a flashlight and a taser. Mr Foster tried to defend himself, tried to get away and the officer shoots him in the back of the head,” Burris said.
A year later the same officer, Ryan McMahon was involved in the deadly shooting of Vallejo rapper Willie McCoy.
He is currently on administrative leave facing a recommendation of termination in that incident.
As for the $5.7 million settlement in the Foster wrongful death lawsuit, Vallejo City Manager’s Office sent KRON4 a statement reading in part:
“Settlement decisions are made for a variety of reasons. As with virtually all settlement agreements, the agreement for this case is not intended to be, and is not, an admission of liability.”
However, Burris thinks the settlement signals progress in accountability for an officer who takes the life of an unarmed Black man.
“And that there is an appreciation for African American lives in terms of them being misplaced and taken, that they are getting real value as they should like other ethnic groups do and that officers who are engaged in misconduct are held to answer. I am hopeful that we can bring about some significant change,” Burris said.
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