Baltimore City reaches $3.5 million settlement with businesses damaged after Freddie Gray’s death – CBS Baltimore

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore City has agreed to pay $3.5 million to settle a lawsuit brought by business owners whose businesses were damaged during the riots that followed Freddie Gray’s death in 2015.

The city and Chae Bros reached a multimillion-dollar settlement last month, though it requires approval by the appraisal committee, Mayor Brandon Scott’s staff confirmed to WJZ. The board is expected to discuss the agreement next week.

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“The settlement amount is $3.5 million, which is approximately (half) the documented economic losses. The Attorney’s Office believes this decision is in the best interests of Baltimore residents,” the mayor’s office said in a statement.

The lawsuit was filed in 2017 by dozens of companies in response to millions of dollars in damage inflicted on city businesses in the wake of the riots and civil unrest in April and May 2015 following the death of Gray, who died in police custody.

Business owners sued the city for violating the Maryland Riot Act, alleging that city officials, including then-Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, failed to prevent the looting and rioting that erupted after Gray’s death.

WJZ spoke to Peter Hwang, the attorney representing the companies.

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“This lawsuit was not just about redress, it was also about giving plaintiffs a means to have their voices heard,” Hwang said. “And through that lawsuit and through that development, I think their voices have been heard loud and clear. The settlement now allows the plaintiffs to finally put it all behind them and move on with our lives.”

Gray was taken into custody around 8:40 a.m. on April 12, 2015, and was placed unhindered in the back of a police van. Less than an hour later, he was rushed to a hospital where he fell into a coma and died a week later from spinal injuries.

In addition to riots, the 25-year-old’s death led to the arrest of six Baltimore police officers. A mistrial was declared in the case of Officer William Porter, and Officers Edward Nero and Caesar Goodson were acquitted in bank lawsuits. The charges against the trio were later dropped and the rest of the officers were charged.

People WJZ spoke to in the Penn North community – which was hard hit by the riots – support the settlement, but now some want to know about helping the average citizen.

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“The city doesn’t look at it as a whole,” said resident Donald McNeill. “The whole community has suffered, it’s not just the businesses, it’s the people in the community.” Baltimore City reaches $3.5 million settlement with businesses damaged after Freddie Gray’s death – CBS Baltimore

Jake Nichol

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