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Pasadena Quietly Settles With Family of Reginald Thomas Jr., Killed by Police in 2016

11:29 AM PDT on April 4, 2018

    The city of Pasadena will pay the family of a mentally ill man who died during a brawl with Pasadena police a settlement of $1.5 million, a move approved by the City Council in a closed-door session in late March.

    The family of 35-year-old Reginald Thomas Jr. filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city that argued the Pasadena Police Department used excessive force and then tried to hold back evidence to cover up the incident that left Thomas dead.

    The Pasadena Star-News confirmed the settlement on Sunday evening.

    Career Harper, the family's lawyer, told the LA Times that Pasadena officers were well aware of Thomas's mental illness. In a detailed account of the incident, the paper described Thomas was repeatedly shocked with stun guns, battered with batons, and punched and kicked in the head.

    The Pasadena Star-News said the decision to settle the lawsuit came after closed City Council session three weeks before the case was scheduled for trial.

    In the last few years, Pasadena police violent confrontations with black men have caused public outcry and protests, including the killings of 19-year-old Kendrec McDade and 21-year-old Christopher Ballew. In early March Police Chief Phillip Sanchez announced his retirement as department criticism continued.

    Across the country, deaths of black men under police custody have caused national protest. An updated 2016 study by the American Journal of Public Health found that the rate of non-Latino black men killed via legal intervention was almost three times higher than of white men. The study focused on use of lethal force between 2010 and 2014.

    In Pasadena, the settlement with Thomas's family does not mean the city of Pasadena and the police department have admitted to liability or fault, Pasadena spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said in a statement.

    While satisfied with the settlement, Thomas' family would like his autopsy report to become public and for the officers involved in the incident to be criminally charged, Harper relayed in a statement. An investigation by the Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey is continuing.

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