Baltimore to consider $8M settlement in 2013 police academy shooting
Police recruit Raymond Grey was accidentally shot in the head during a training exercise, sustained 'severe and permanent' injury
Wilborn P. Nobles III
BALTIMORE — Baltimore’s legal department is recommending an $8 million settlement in a lawsuit brought by a police trainee who was accidentally shot during a 2013 training exercise.
The Board of Estimates on Wednesday is expected to vote on the settlement agreement between Raymond Gray, Baltimore and the city’s police department. Gray was a University of Maryland police recruit who was shot in the head by city police training officer William Scott Kern during a Feb. 12, 2013 training exercise at the Rosewood Center, a former mental health facility in Owings Mills that has been closed since 2010.
The lawsuit had been scheduled for a federal court trial, but court records show a settlement was reached earlier this month.
Kern used a live weapon when he was “demonstrating the danger standing in the potential line of fire,” according to background notes from the city spending board’s agenda. During the training, city documents show, Kern removed his service weapon, believing it was his simulation gun, pointed it at a window in Gray’s direction, and fired the weapon.
As a result, Gray “sustained severe and permanent brain damage,” city documents show. Gray subsequently filed a civil lawsuit against the city. Kern was charged with assault and reckless endangerment, and convicted of the latter charge. He was sentenced to 18 months in jail, with all but about two months suspended, and fired from the police department.
A. Dwight Pettit, an attorney retained by Gray’s family, said Gray is doing “remarkably well” considering that he lost an eye and has a bullet lodged in his brain. Gray has some cognitive function but he’s limited, Pettit said. The attorney said Gray will need around the clock nursing and medical care for the rest of his life.
Currently Gray faces $2 million in medical bills, and Pettit said they estimate Gray’s medical expenses for the rest of his life will amount to $7 million. Pettit said they’re glad the city recognizes “the severity of this tragedy,” but he added that this isn’t over until the settlement is approved.
“We’re glad that the administration has recognized the severity of his injuries and the impact on him, his life and his family’s life for the rest of his life. It’s a very tragic situation,” Pettit said.
In the fallout from the shooting, state officials disclosed that Baltimore police were not authorized to use the Rosewood Center for training. City police said that top commanders weren't aware of the exercise.
The administration of then-Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake had asked the city spending board to approve a $200,000 settlement in the case in order to “resolve the litigation proceedings.” Gray rejected that amount. .
Pettit has tried to bring attention to the issue of fairness in how Gray is being treated compared to other settlements, including the one awarded to Freddie Gray's family. Freddie Gray, 25, died after suffering severe neck injuries while in police custody in 2015, and the city agreed to pay his family $6.4 million without ever going to court.
Dana Moore, Baltimore’s deputy city solicitor, said the Raymond Gray settlement would not be the largest police settlement in the city’s history.