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News broke this week that city officials in Baltimore have approved the $300,000 wrongful death settlement for the family of Anthony Anderson. The tragic death can be described as nothing other than police brutality and excessive force, based upon the statements of the witnesses who witnessed the violent encounter.
The settlement comes nearly five years after Mr. Anderson's death in 2012, which the medical examiner ruled was a homicide. However, the family hopes that the officers involved would be held personally and criminally accountable for their actions never materialized as the officers were cleared of wrongdoing. This settlement comes after the multi-million dollar Freddie Gray settlement.
Mr. Anderson was walking home when he was confronted by Baltimore police officers. The officers claimed that they had witnessed Mr. Anderson being involved in a drug deal. Despite officers claiming to have simply tackled, or bear hugged, Mr. Anderson, he suffered multiple broken ribs, internal bleeding, and a spleen laceration, which eventually killed him later that same day.
Witnesses on the scene describe how an officer actually lifted Anderson up and brought him down to the ground landing on his collarbone or neck. Additionally, Anderson's own mother witnessed the incident and witnessed officers kicking him once he was down. Initial reports before the medical examiner's homicide determination was made, falsely listed Anderson's death as being caused by choking on drugs he was hiding in his mouth.
Generally, officers are not permitted to use more force than is reasonably necessary in order to affect an arrest. However, the phrase "reasonably necessary" is open to interpretation, particularly as it requires speculating as to what a reasonable police officer in the same situation would have done.
What makes Anderson's case so shocking is that there were multiple officers, and no facts indicating that any force was being exerted against the officers by Anderson. Furthermore, Anderson's own mother witnessed officers kicking him once he was down. In nearly any situation, kicking someone while they are down, even a criminal suspect, would and should be considered excessive force by virtue of the fact that the suspect is down.
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