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Harford County releases $1 million demand letter from attorneys representing estate of man killed by police

Dashboard cam footage released of deadly deputy involved shooting in Forrest Hill
Posted at 4:55 PM, Apr 30, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-01 09:06:38-04

BEL AIR, Md. — Harford County Executive Bob Cassilly released documentation undercutting claims by Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler that county officials caved to a million dollar ransom.

The whole ordeal stems from a deadly deputy involved shooting that took place back in April 2022 in Forest Hill.

Deputies were initially called to a shopping center on Rock Spring Road for reports of a suicidal man with access to firearms.

Body-worn camera footage shows an 11 plus minute standoff between 53-year-old John Fauver and deputies.

Multiple times throughout, police can be heard begging Fauver to peacefully surrender.

At one point in the video, Fauver tells deputies to "get your snipers boys."

Eventually Fauver gets out of his truck to speak with deputies, but reaches for something that turned out to be a cane.

By then it was too late, sergeant Bradford Sives and corporal Christopher Maddox had already fired, killing Fauver.

The Harford County State's Attorney's Office ultimately declined to prosecute the deputies, ruling their actions "necessary and proportional and not unreasonable under the circumstances."

Almost a year after Fauver's death, attorneys representing his estate sent the State of Maryland and the Harford County Attorney's Office a notice of intent to sue.

RELATED:Harford County taxpayers on the hook to avoid lawsuit

In that letter, the attorneys demanded $1 million in exchange for all wrongful death claims being dropped.

Here is what the letter said in part.

"Harford County SherifF's Deputies approached Mr. Fauver's vehicle with their weapons drawn: The officers knew or should have known that Mr. Fauver was going through a crisis at that time. Another Harford County Sheriff's Deputy, who was several hundred feet away, dischargedhis weapon even though none of the other officers, who were at a much better vantage point, had done so. In response, the other officers on thescene discharged theirfirearms as well. Mr. Fauver was shot in the upperbody and succumbed to his injuries later that day. He did not have a weapon at the time he was shot."

In March of this year the County's insurance company recommended paying the $1 million to prevent further, more costly litigation.

On Tuesday Cassilly's office released the insurance company's written opinion which states in part:

"The facts ofthe case are not favorable to HSO. The many difficulties associated with defending the case have been well documented, and the likelihood of a defense verdict is low. Our recent experience with law enforcement cases in the Fourth Circuit has not been favorable. The Courts are reluctant to grant qualified immunity and the settlements and awards are much greater than only a few years ago. Our experience mirrors that of yourdefense attorney, who has identified several similar cases that resulted in awards three to five times larger than the current demand on our case."

The claims manager estimated the County could've been on the hook for $3 to $5 million, had the case gone forward.

As for Gahler, he took to social media on Monday criticizing Cassilly's decision to settle.

“I think that this case is worse than we even saw in the Freddie Gray settlement,” the sheriff told WMAR-2 News, “In that case, there were police officers charged. There was a lawsuit filed. Even if they were charged incorrectly, there was a lawsuit actually filed. None of that happened here.”

It's not the first time Gahler's grabbed headlines for his department's response to the Fauver shooting.

Shortly after the incident, then Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh sued Gahler and the Sheriff's Office, accusing them of interfering with an independent investigation into the shooting.

A judge ended up ruling against Gahler in the matter.