Malcolm Gracia New Bedford Police Shooting Case Settled for $500K
A jury trial in a wrongful death lawsuit of a teen shot and killed by New Bedford police in 2012 was scheduled to begin this week. Instead, the City of New Bedford announced today that a $500,000 cash settlement has been reached with the family of Malcolm Gracia.
Gracia’s sister, Christina Gracia, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in 2015 naming the City of New Bedford and seven members of the New Bedford Police Department. The lawsuit alleged negligence and civil rights violations.
Under the terms of the settlement, there is no admission of wrongdoing by the City or any police officers, and funds available through the City’s insurance policy will be used to make a one-time payment of $500,000 to the family, the office of Mayor Jon Mitchell announced today.
Mitchell said the agreement allows the city to avoid substantial litigation costs associated with trial proceedings and "provides a measure of closure to the Gracia family following a protracted period of legal action."
On May 17, 2012, Gracia died after an encounter with police in the Temple Landing neighborhood. Gracia allegedly stabbed a New Bedford police detective with a hunting knife before he was shot dead by police.
Police say they attempted to subdue Gracia with a taser and ordered him to drop his knife as he moved toward another detective. Police say after those actions failed to stop Gracia, two detectives at the scene resorted to deadly force.
The Bristol County District Attorney’s office issued a report concluding that the shooting, "although tragic, was justified under the circumstances.” The NAACP and ACLU in January 2013 took issue with DA's report and requested an inquest. The Massachusetts Attorney General's Office that year conducted a review of the DA's report and subsequently announced that no further investigation was warranted.
After the incident, a citywide dialogue was facilitated by the U.S. Department of Justice. An action plan was signed in 2013 in an effort to strengthen relations between youth and police, build trust, and improve communication in the city, Mitchell's office said.
In the nearly eight years since the incident, the New Bedford Police Department has dedicated time and resources to comprehensive training for all officers, including annual use-of-force training, annual reasonable suspicion and probable cause training, anti-discrimination and fair and impartial policing training, and reviews of internal affairs practices and video monitoring equipment of the department, Mitchell's office said.
“As the late Police Chief David Provencher noted in the wake of the incident, ‘This whole thing is a tragedy all around. The family has lost a son. The officers’ lives have been altered. No officer comes away from the loss of life unscathed.’ Since the incident, the neighborhood and police department have worked hard to build trust and strengthen communication together. Our police force, led by Chief Cordeiro, has continued to focus on a community-based approach to policing that fosters trust and dialogue to best protect and serve all of New Bedford’s residents," said Mitchell in a statement.
“The New Bedford Police Department remains committed to fostering a spirit of trust among residents and officers in our community. The mission of our department is to protect and serve the people of our city, and our officers are dedicated to that mission every day in the effective community policing they practice in New Bedford,” said New Bedford Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro.