City of Kent to pay $4.4M settlement in police shooting from liability fund

Confidential negotiations with mediator determined amount

The city of Kent will pay the $4.4 million settlement to the family of Giovonn Joseph-McDade from its liability fund, an insurance paid by the city to cover such cases.

The amount of the settlement was determined between the two sides after meeting with a mediator.

Kent also has paid $652,000 so far to the Seattle law firm of Keating, Bucklin & McCormack to represent the city and two police officers in the civil rights lawsuit as well as an earlier King County inquest trial, according to Bailey Stober, city communications manager.

The parents of Joseph-McDade, who was fatally shot by a Kent Police officer in 2017 after a short pursuit, filed the suit in 2020 and reached an agreement with the city announced April 14.

“Insurance covers everything above our self-insured retention (similar to a deductible), which during 2017 was $250K,” Stober said in an email. “Quick math would be $4.4M settlement, plus $652,228 equals $5.052M. Of that, the city has already covered all expenses to date (the $652K). So, our insurer will cover the $4.4M payment as well as ultimately reimburse the city for city costs in excess of the $250K.”

Stober said it is unknown how much the payment might raise insurance costs next year.

“Our program renewal date is Jan. 1 and preparations for that renewal begin in September,” he said.

In 2019, the city’s worker compensation insurance rates were hiked 17% and the deductible raised by $100,000 after a $1.1 million claim because of the on-duty death in 2018 of Kent Police Officer Diego Moreno. Moreno, 35, was killed in 2018 when, after laying out a strip of spikes to slow a fleeing pickup, he was inadvertently struck by a pursuing Kent Police SUV.

The city’s annual premium in 2019 jumped to $80,184 from $68,674. The city’s self-insured retention (similar to a deductible) increased to $600,000 per loss from $500,000.

The city paid $1.1 million to the state Department of Labor & Industries to fund Moreno’s pension, which went to his widow. The city paid the claim (from its worker comp fund) and insurer Safety National provided reimbursement (of the amount more than the $500,000 deductible), once the claim closed.

The $4.4 million amount in the Joseph-McDade case was determined between the two sides.

“The settlement was reached through confidential mediation between the parties with a former judge acting as the mediator,” Stober said.

Attorney Craig Sims, who represents the Joseph-McDade family, said it’s a challenge to determine an amount.

“The value of life you can’t put a number on it,” Sims said during an interview at a press conference April 15 he organized to announce the settlement. “We reached a settlement with the help of mediator.”

Sims said city leaders feared they might lose the civil rights suit.

“That is why they decided to settle at a value of $4.4 million which is not a negligible amount, let’s be clear, it’s not,” Sims said.

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