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Former police recruit declines settlement offer

Posted at 9:43 PM, Mar 31, 2016
A man accidentally shot by a police instructor was offered $200,000 by the city, but he turned it down.
 
It's rare that money is offered before litigation closes, and even more rare for that offer to be turned down by the plaintiff. It's a huge roll of the dice.
 
"Any case you can lose. I think we're compelled to take this all the way," said attorney A. Dwight Pettit, the Baltimore attorney representing Raymond Gray.  
 
Gray was at an abandoned state mental hospital in Owings Mills in 2013 with officers training to become members of the city's police department. He was training to become a member of the University of Maryland's police force when instructor William Kern shot him after reaching for a gun during the training, instead of the replica gun instructors typically used, hitting Gray in the head.
 
Pettit said he's not backing down from his stance that his client is owed much more than the $200,000 offered by city attorney's. Pettit said Gray is still undergoing rehabilitation after suffering gruesome injuries.
 
"He has a glass eye in his head," Pettit sad. "The bullet is still in his head. "They're playing political games instead of stepping forward and doing the right thing."
 
The lawsuit alleges Gray was deprived of constitutional rights, and that and a 1983 statute allows him to seek judgment in a federal court.
 
Pettit said his client will lose $6 million over his lifetime between medical bills and missed wages.
 
But the city's law department believes it's not a federal case and that the suit belongs in state court.
 
Monetary awards are capped under Maryland law.
 
Pettit questioned why his case was different than that of a settlement agreed upon between the city and the family of Freddie Gray.
 
Freddie Gray died last spring while in police custody. His death sparked rioting and looting in Baltimore. Six officers were charged in relation to his death. Those trials are pending.
 
Nilson said the difference is that litigation in the Freddie Gray case would have originated in federal court after Freddie Gray family attorney Billy Murphy notified them he would do so.
 
The family was awarded $6.4 million after both sides reached an agreement out of court.
 
Nilson said the fact that the claim should be litigated in a state court means the cap is in effect.
 
"If the plaintiff accepts [the offer], the case will be over. It's up to the plaintiff to decide whether to accept that," City Solicitor George Nilson said in an interview with ABC2 after the city's spending panel approved the sum Wednesday morning. 
 
Pettit disagreed, and said the money isn't enough.
 
"Mr. Raymond Gray wouldn't see a dime of it because there's an $800,000 medical bill lien already filed," Pettit said.
 
A hearing has been scheduled for April 13 with the trial set to begin April 25.

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