Lawsuit settled in death of ex-Marine shot by Wilmington Police

The City of Wilmington has settled a lawsuit that resulted from the death of an ex-Marine who was fatally shot by city police.

Derek Hale was shot three times in November 2006 as officers were conducting an investigation into the Pagans motorcycle club.  He also had been previously hit by a taser after ignoring police commands that he remove his hands from his pockets.

The Attorney General’s office found that police were justified in shooting Hale.  The altercation began as he was sitting on the front steps of a house as police were conducting their investigation.

According to investigators, Hale was found to be carrying a spring-loaded knife in his pants pocket and a can of pepper spray.

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Papers to dismiss the federal lawsuit were filed Friday.  Hale’s widow had filed the lawsuit. 

The settlement payment of $875,000 will come from the City’s Risk Management Fund, not from the General Operating Budget.  Under the settlement, the City admits to no wrongdoing nor to any by its officers.  The case was settled “in order to avoid the burden and expense of further litigation, the cost of which would likely have exceeded the settlement amount,” according to a statement released by Mayor James Baker’s office.

“Our officers were confronted by a subject who was wanted by the Delaware State Police for felony drug trafficking and who was reportedly known to carry a firearm,” said Police Chief Michael Szczerba.  “The officers reasonably believed that Hale could have been holding a weapon in the front pocket of his hooded sweatshirt when he refused to show his hands in response to repeated commands.”

Trial was scheduled to begin in April, 2011.

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