Settlement Reached In Lawsuit Over Tyrone West’s Death

Maryland has reached a settlement with the family of Tyrone West after they filed a lawsuit alleging excessive force by police during a traffic stop in 2013.

The state Board of Public Works is scheduled to vote on the $400,000 settlement on Wednesday. Attorney A. Dwight Pettit filed a federal lawsuit against Morgan State University police and Baltimore on behalf of the 44-year-old man’s family.

Pettit said the state and city have settled, but refused to comment further until the city Board of Estimates and public works board have voted.

Maryland Settles LawsuitIn most cases, the state Board of Public Works approves legal settlements without discussion. The board’s five voting members include Governor Larry Hogan, Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford and Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp and Comptroller Peter Franchot.

On July 18, 2013, police conducting traffic stops pulled over West and a female passenger. Officers observed a bulge in West’s sock, which they believed to be drugs, before he tried to flee the scene.

When police officers tried to apprehend West a struggle ensued. One of the officers described the incident as the “fight of my life.”

In 2013, the officers involved in West’s death were cleared of any criminal wrongdoing. Based on autopsy report, the cause of West’s death was a heart condition exacerbated by the summer heat and struggle with police.

Since one of the police officers was a member of the Morgan State University police force, the state had to get involved in the lawsuit. The lawsuit said the officer sit on West’s chest when trying to subdue him.

An independent autopsy determined the cause of death was “positional asphyxiation.”

Following the state’s decision to pay Tyrone West’s family $400,000, Baltimore officials agreed to pay $600,000.

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