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True Blue Door

(2,969 posts)
Tue Jul 14, 2015, 02:22 AM Jul 2015

If ordinary killers got off paying police department wrongful death settlements.

The City of New York has settled with the family of Eric Garner for $5.9 million after initially seeking $75 million in damages for his death at the hands of police. An award of $5.9 million may sound a lot to most people, but the yearly budget of the NYPD is about $4.8 BILLION, so to put that in context, $5.9 million is about 0.1% of a single year's operating expenses for the NYPD. And that's only assuming the city pays the entire sum up front, rather than in installments - in which case the percentage becomes increasingly trivial.

What would this kind of settlement look like if some random person had killed Garner and reached a proportional arrangement? The median household income in the United States is about $52,000 a year, which is actually way above the typical income associated with high murder rates, so our example is actually quite generous if we start with this premise. If someone making this income choked someone to death on the street and then, rather than being charged with murder, simply settled a wrongful death lawsuit at the exact same percentage as the Garner settlement, how much would they be paying?

Exactly $63.92. Yup: Sixty-three dollars and ninety-two cents. Even if it were the NYPD itself paying the bill rather than the entire City of New York, the result would be equivalent to an average person having to pay sixty three bucks and change for killing a man. And if the payment is spread out over several years, it could be even lower, divided out over the total number of years. If it were divided over three years, you could just drop a twenty in the dead man's family's mailbox every year.

But in actual fact, the NYPD isn't paying a single cent. The whole City of New York pays, so let's look at that budget: This year the budget of NYC was about $75 billion. So since NYC is paying the Garners, what does that look like proportionally? Their $5.9 million settlement is about 0.008% from one year of the city's yearly budget.

Going back to our ordinary person killer with a $52k income, that amounts to a one-time payment of $4.09. That's almost enough to buy a soda in a movie theater. So if you were a city, you could murder someone and then drop a $5-spot to their family and everything would be fine. Though, of course, even then cities only do this if absolutely forced to by massive political pressure and an overwhelming case on the part of the plaintiffs.

I say it's time for victims' attorneys to stop accepting deals like this, and start genuinely holding cities accountable on a level commensurate with their crimes. If they refuse or are unable to bring killer police to justice, then make them pay financially on a level that makes any kind of moral sense. The sought awards should be a billion dollars, and the settlements should be $50-$100 million.

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If ordinary killers got off paying police department wrongful death settlements. (Original Post) True Blue Door Jul 2015 OP
Here are two claims. Igel Jul 2015 #1


(35,118 posts)
1. Here are two claims.
Tue Jul 14, 2015, 10:09 AM
Jul 2015

Reconcile both of them with any proposal that awards truly stunningly high awards. You don't get to pick or choose, because both are fact based. One, however, lasted a couple of days; the other lasted weeks. Which would result from a restriction on PD functions.

1. After some cop killings last winter, there was essentially a police slow-down that sharply reduced police presence. This was widely billed as a success because the arrest rate, naturally, declined. (This was a plus because POC are disproportionately arrested.) The take-away was that the police were the cause of the violence, and if police were to just lay low and do little to nothing society would be a much better place.

2. After riots in Baltimore, there was essentially a police slow-down that sharply reduced police presence. This was widely billed as a disaster, because the arrest rate, naturally, declined. This was a minus because the highest crime rates were in areas inhabited primarily by POC, so POC disproportionately suffered. The take-away was that the police were the cause of the violence, because the police just laid low and did little to nothing, and as a result society was at the mercy of those who would kill, assault, and steal.

In any event, when you get past the urge to punish and seek revenge for somebody you don't know and never would have given a damn about if he'd lived 3 blocks over or cut you off in traffic and instead shift your focus on those who sustained the loss of a family member, the settlement is well above the average malpractice or wrongful death amount for most places; for NYC, though, it may be closer to average.

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