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$6.5 million settles police lawsuit in traffic death

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    The Detroit City Council approved a $6.5 million settlement Wednesday in a case of a pedestrian who was killed after she was hit by a police car. Wanda
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 31 5:18 AM
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      The Detroit City Council approved a $6.5 million settlement Wednesday in a case of a pedestrian who was killed after she was hit by a police car. Wanda Cottrell, 39, a former assistant librarian at the University of Detroit Mercy, was killed by a Detroit police officer while crossing the street to go to the store near her apartment in 1998. "It finally brings conclusion to a terrible tragedy played out in the court for many years," said attorney Geoffrey Fieger, who represented Cottrell's family. "This is one of the largest settlements of its kind." Cottrell was walking across Jefferson near Riopelle about 10:15 p.m. Aug. 1, 1998, with James Braswell when they were hit by the car driven by Officer Fred Scott Jr. in the center turn lane. Cottrell died Aug. 25, after 24 days in a coma. Braswell, who went through the windshield of the patrol car, survived the accident and settled a lawsuit he filed against Detroit for an undisclosed amount. He was hospitalized for about a month. Cottrell's family sued, alleging that Scott drove recklessly and did not have his siren or any lights on when he hit them. Scott said he was chasing a blue Cadillac for a traffic violation when the couple walked in front of his car. But witnesses said Scott did not appear to be chasing a car and staggered from his car after he hit them. Officers did not administer sobriety tests to Scott. A Wayne County jury awarded the Cottrell estate $7 million in 2000, but that judgment was appealed by the city. That appeal was denied. Detroit Police Department spokeswoman Tara Dunlop was unable to say whether Scott was disciplined, but he no longer works for the department. Councilwoman Sheila Cockrel said the city had to settle the case. "I have many risk-management questions, but we needed to settle it because we can pay less than we would otherwise," Cockrel said. "One of the things the city has to do is to improve the training and discipline in terms of risk management on items like this." You can reach Darren A. Nichols at (313) 222-2396 or dnichols@....
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