Verdict in Gray Trial

By: Philip Stewart
By: Philip Stewart

November 17, 2006

A Charlottesville jury came to decision Friday evening in the case of four Albemarle County police officers involved in a 1997 fatal shooting.

The Charlottesville jury found that an Albemarle County police officer was 'Grossly Negligent' in the fatal shooting of Frederick Gray at the Squire Hill Apartments in 1997. They awarded Gray's family $4.5 million in damages.

"We're very thankful with the jury," said Abraham Gray, the father of the man police shot and killed almost a decade ago.

"We had a great deal of respect for the jury, and I voiced that before they returned the verdict, just they seemed so intent and intelligent," said Debbie Wyatt, an attorney for the plaintiff.

In 1997 officers shot and killed Gray when they responded to a domestic dispute. The officers' attorney says Gray violently resisted arrest, and that officers tried to resrain him before shooting.

Gray's father was seeking $6 million to benefit his grandchildren, but Friday night counselors for the plaintiff were happy with the amount the jury did award.

"This is really a great verdict for the kids of Frederick Gray," said Richard Armstrong, another attorney representing the Gray family. "They're now going to be provided for, taken care of, and it's really a good thing this jury did."

Back in 2003 another jury cleared the officers of any wrong doing, but a supreme court ruling overturned that verdict.

But this time around, the plaintiff's attorneys had nothing but positive things to say about the Charlottesville courtroom.

"It was really enjoyable from the standpoint that I think all counsel on both sides did a very good job," said Wyatt as she left the courthouse. "We really enjoyed the judge. All sides did."

For Gray's father, the money means a better future for his grandchildren.

"It means a lot to your kids. It means a lot to us, too," he said.

Before the case went to the jury, the judge gave the defendants attorney 60 days to file an argument to have the case dismissed or the jury's verdict set aside.

But Friday night, there no comment from the defendants or their counsel.

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