Michael Brown's family receives $1.5 million settlement in wrongful death lawsuit

ST. LOUIS -- The insurance company for the city of Ferguson, Missouri, paid $1.5 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Michael Brown's parents, the city attorney said Friday.

Attorney Apollo Carey disclosed the amount in an email in response to an open records request. The settlement of the federal lawsuit was announced Tuesday, but financial details were not initially released.

Carey declined further comment on the settlement. A phone message seeking comment from the attorney for the family, Anthony Gray, was not immediately returned.

Brown, 18, was black and unarmed when he was fatally shot by white officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, 2014. Wilson was cleared of wrongdoing, but the shooting led to months of protests in the St. Louis suburb.

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Michael Brown and former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson

Wilson resigned in November 2014, soon after a St. Louis County grand jury decided not to indict him. The U.S. Department of Justice found no grounds to prosecute Wilson, but the shooting led to a Justice Department investigation that resulted in a consent agreement requiring Ferguson to make significant changes to address racial bias in its police department and municipal court.

A settlement calls for significant changes in operations, including sensitivity training for officers, adoption of community policing techniques, court reforms and other measures. The process is expected to cost more than $2 million and could take years.

Michael Brown Sr. and Lezley McSpadden sued the city, former Police Chief Tom Jackson and Wilson in 2015, citing a police culture hostile to black residents and claiming Wilson used excessive force. Ferguson, Jackson and Wilson denied the allegations.

The parents also argued that the death of their son deprived them of financial support through his future potential wages.

U.S. District Judge E. Richard Webber approved the settlement but disclosed nothing about the amount, saying only that it was "fair and reasonable compensation for this wrongful death claim and is in the best interests of each Plaintiff," with the money to be split between the parents.

Webber also wrote that the agreement "shall remain sealed by this Court and shall be considered a closed record" because disclosure of the information "could jeopardize the safety of individuals involved in this matter, whether as witnesses, parties, or investigators."

Settlements involving public money and public entities like cities are typically open under Missouri law, but Webber wrote that the value of opening the record "is outweighed by the adverse impact to Plaintiffs." He did not elaborate.