Police insisted they saw Che Taylor with a holster – but the only firearm nearby was buried under a heap of rubbish in another man’s car.
Seattle is set to pay $ 1.5 million to the family of Che Taylor, a black man killed by undercover city police while searching for another suspect.
While the Seattle Police Department long insisted that Taylor was shot only for reaching for a gun, a federal judge ordered the case to be brought to justice two months ago. The court’s decision was triggered in part by evidence suggesting Taylor may have been unarmed when he was shot.
The $ 1.5 million award will be given to Taylor’s mother and shared between the deceased’s two children.
According to The Associated Press, police officers were conducting an internal investigation into the incident. In February 2016, the Seattle Police Department announced that the shooting met guidelines for the acceptable use of force.
Taylor, the Seattle Times says, was shot dead by officers Michael Spaulding and Scott Miller.
The night of Taylor’s death, Spaulding and Miller performed an undercover operation in plain clothes in search of another suspect. For some time while on watch, Taylor arrived outside an apartment complex in the Wedgewood neighborhood of Seattle.
Both officers claim they discovered a holster on Taylor’s waist. They allegedly decided to reach out to him after recognizing Taylor as a “known criminal and professional felon with convictions of rape and robbery”.
As a convicted felon, Taylor would have been legally allowed to buy – much less hide – a gun.
However, the officers did not act quickly. Taylor got out of his car, sat in another, and did not return to the apartment complex for at least half an hour.
This time Spaulding and Miller confronted Taylor with guns drawn seconds after he stepped out of the other vehicle. Within five seconds they opened fire and mortally wounded Taylor.
In their defense, Spaulding and Miller say they saw Taylor reach for the same hip they thought they discovered a holster. However, a search of the area revealed that the only weapon nearby was the car that Taylor had just left and that was buried under a pile of debris and trash.
An internal investigation cleared Spaulding and Miller of wrongdoing and found that they had reasonably assumed that Taylor’s hand gesture was somehow a threat to their lives.
But Taylor’s family publicly – and very persistently – questioned the department’s narrative. Along with filing a lawsuit, Che’s brother, Andre Taylor, formed an anti-police violence group called Not This Time.
When the case closed, the Taylor family lawyers argued that Spaulding and Miller were responding to “dated” information. Since Taylor had left the apartment complex unnoticed for at least half an hour, the officers should not have assumed that he was still armed if he had ever been.
The Seattle Times notes that Che Taylor’s sister DeVitta Briscoe – named executor of Che’s estate – said she and the family were happy with the settlement amount, even though the money could never be an adequate substitute for a loved one.
“No amount of money can compensate my mother for her friend,” Briscoe said in a statement. “I’m just grateful for our legal team that took this case on when many others didn’t.”
“This is no justice for our family,” Briscoe said, “but we want to give hope to other families who seek accountability and liability.”
Andre Taylor told the Times that he believed his brother’s death must have had an impact on the department’s accountability. While the deal stipulates that Seattle will not have to admit wrongdoing in Che’s death, Andre Taylor said that an award of $ 1.5 million “seems like a guilty admission to me.”
Che Taylor’s family receives a $ 1.5 million settlement from the City of Seattle
Seattle Police have resolved a $ 1.5 million death lawsuit
The SPD is settling the lawsuit against Che Taylor for a death of 1.5 million US dollars. New evidence casts doubt on officials’ claim that Taylor was armed