Boston Moves To Settle Suit Over 2016 Police Shooting

By Julie Manganis | February 26, 2024, 8:01 PM EST ·

The city of Boston has reached an agreement in principle to settle a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the mother of a Black man who was shot to death by Boston police officers in 2016, according to a Monday filing.

Hope Coleman's son Terrence J. Coleman, 31, was struggling with schizophrenia one evening in October 2016 when she called 911, intending to try to get him into treatment. Instead, two arriving officers, who believed Terrence Coleman was armed with a knife and tried to stab an emergency medical technician, shot him.

His mother filed her lawsuit in 2018.

No details of the proposed settlement were disclosed in the filing, a court-ordered report to the judge presiding over the case. The parties said they will again update the court on March 8.

It comes more than two months after U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf referred the long-pending case to the court's mediation program, amid a motion by the plaintiffs for a default judgment and Judge Wolf's repeated scolding of the city for "slow walking" its discovery obligations in the case.

As the potential default judgment — which Judge Wolf had warned the city was a possibility — loomed over the case, the city's legal department brought in outside counsel, Nixon Peabody LLP's Brian Kelly, and hired a new e-discovery vendor.

During a six-hour hearing in December on the motion for default judgment, Judge Wolf pointed to the significant amount of money the city has spent on defending the case, in front of a courtroom packed with more than a dozen lawyers, and called the case "more messed up than any case I have had in 39 years."

The city, in addition to paying its own attorneys had also agreed to pay at least $500,000 to Coleman's attorneys as a sanction for discovery delays.

William Fick of Fick & Marx, who represents Hope Coleman, said he would be unable to comment until the settlement itself is filed with the court.

Kelly did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday evening.

Coleman is represented by Amy Barsky, Daniel N. Marx and William W. Fick of Fick & Marx LLP and by Oren Sellstrom and Sophia L. Hall of Lawyers for Civil Rights.

The city and Police Commissioner Michael Cox are represented by Brian T. Kelly, Joshua C. Sharp and Brianna N. Portu of Nixon Peabody LLP, and by Adam N. Cederbaum and Adam D. Johnson of the Boston Law Department.

Former Police Commissioner William Evans is represented by George W. Vien and Pietro Conte of Donnelly Conroy & Gelhaar LLP.

The officers are represented by Leonard H. Kesten and Thomas R. Donohue of Brody Hardoon Perkins & Kesten LLP.

The case is Coleman v. City of Boston et al., case number 1:18-cv-10646, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

--Additional reporting by Chris Villani and Brian Dowling. Editing by Alex Hubbard.

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