Kansas City to pay $5M after police killing of Black man

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City will pay $5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the family of an unarmed Black man who was fatally shot by a police officer in 2019.

The Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners approved the settlement with the family of Terrence Bridges Jr. in a closed meeting earlier this week, The Kansas City Star reported.

Bridges, 30, was shot and killed after officers responded to a reported carjacking.

Police had contended he was resisting arrest and was shot during a struggle with the officer, identified in police records as Dylan Pifer. The officer told investigators he feared for his life because he thought Bridges was pulling a gun from a sweatshirt.

Bridges’ family and civil rights activists said he was not armed, not resisting, did not pose a threat to the officer and was not involved in the carjacking.

Tom Porto, an attorney representing the family, said in a statement the settlement represents the police department’s acknowledgement of the tragic and significant loss to Bridges’ family.

“Despite this tragedy, we recognize that police officers have difficult jobs and are frequently faced with making split-second life or death decisions,” Porto said. “The family is grateful that they are now able to put this matter behind them.”

The police department said in a statement that it routinely trains officers to handle tense and rapidly evolving situations.

“The KCPD is sorry for the pain felt by Terrence Bridges’ family,” police spokesperson Sgt. Jacob Becchina said in the statement. “We are pleased everyone was able to come to a mutually agreeable resolution.”

Pifer, who is still on the police force, was not charged in the killing.

A year after Bridges’ death, Pifer was with Sgt. Matthew T. Neal as Neal injured a 15-year-old boy by slamming his face into the pavement after stopping a car the teenager was in.

Neal left the department after pleading guilty last week to third-degree assault. He was placed on four years’ probation. Pifer was not charged.

The Kansas City police commissioners agreed in January 2021 to pay $725,000 to settle an excessive use of force lawsuit in that case.

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The spelling of Terrence Bridges’ first name has been corrected.

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