The Santa Monica City Council voted on April 14 to settle a civil wrongful death lawsuit brought by the parents of a 21-year-old man who was shot and killed by police in a September 4, 2006 confrontation outside Club 2020 in the 2000 block of Wilshire Boulevard. The $250,000 settlement followed a mediation conducted before respected retired judge Joe Hilberman; the case had been scheduled to go to trial April 20.“This settlement does not constitute any admission of liability,” said Deputy City Attorney Carol Ann Rohr, who represented the City. “The City believes the officers’ actions were justified because Hunter [the decedent] was armed with a semiautomatic pistol and was turning toward them.” She explained the settlement, saying, “This type of action is very expensive to try; jury results can be unpredictable and this [settlement] yields a predictable result.”In the 2006 incident, police responded after midnight to the report of a large fight. A citizen told them at the scene that one subject was armed with a handgun, and when officers attempted to detain the man he fled on foot and the police gave chase. SMPD spokesman Lt. Frank Fabrega said at the time that the man “began to turn toward the officers, and the officers could see that he was holding a handgun in his hand.” [Santa Monica Mirror, September 7-13, 2006]“Officers fearing for their safety shot the suspect,” who was pronounced dead at the scene by Santa Monica Fire paramedics, and “a handgun was located near the suspect,” Fabrega added.The suspect was identified as Christopher Lamont Hunter of Los Angeles. The wrongful death action was brought by his parents, Milton and Laynett Hunter.Following the 2006 incident, an independent investigation was conducted by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office. Rohr said that the investigation “found the officers acted in lawful self defense and defense of others.”Settlement documents are now being distributed among the parties, which will lead to a final dismissal of the action in the near future.There have been no SMPD officer-involved fatal shootings since the September 2006 Hunter incident, said police department spokesman Sgt. Renaldi Thruston.
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