Dearborn agrees to $1.25M deal in death of Black man

Ed White
Associated Press

Detroit – Dearborn has agreed to a $1.25 million settlement in a lawsuit over the fatal police shooting of an unarmed Black man who was chased on foot and killed in 2015 after being accused of stealing an energy drink, an attorney said Tuesday.

Kevin Matthews, 35, was killed in a Wednesday Dec. 23, 2015, by a Dearborn police officer in Detroit.

The deal between the city and Kevin Matthews’ family came weeks after the Dearborn officer, Chris Hampton, 33, killed himself.

Hampton insisted in a lawsuit deposition that he was on the ground and Matthews was over him, trying to get his gun at the end of an intense foot chase. Matthews, who was shorter and 75 pounds lighter than the officer, was shot nine times.

Matthews, 35, had a history of mental illness and was recovering from a broken arm. There were no witnesses to the shooting or video of the final moments.

Crime scene and ballistics experts hired by Matthews’ family said the officer’s explanation didn’t add up. They believe Hampton was shooting down; two bullets were found under Matthews’ body and one was next to it.

“This was an egregious killing,” attorney Milt Greenman told The Associated Press.

Police Chief Ron Haddad said he was unaware of the lawsuit settlement and had no immediate comment. A message seeking comment from the city attorney wasn’t immediately returned Tuesday.

Two courts had said the case could go to trial. But Greenman said a civil trial would have looked different without the deceased officer in the courtroom.

Valerie Johnson, who is the mother of shooting victim Kevin Williams, weeps as she addresses the media, flanked by her son Lavell Williams, left, and Reverend Charles E. Williams II in this Thursday, Dec. 24, 2015, file photo at the Historic King Solomon Baptist Church in Detroit.

Matthews’ family “wants to move forward,” he said. “With Officer Hampton having passed, how he passed – that’s generally why the case was resolved.”

In 2016, Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy said no criminal charges would be filed against Hampton, saying she was convinced the officer was on the ground defending himself.

“Had this been on a body camera, there’s no doubt that Officer Hampton would have been prosecuted,” Greenman said.