California City Settles for $4 Million for the Police Shooting of Mentally ill Black Man

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The city of Walnut Creek, an upscale California suburb just east of Oakland, has settled with the family of Miles Hall, a 23-year-old Black man who was shot and killed by local police when he was having a mental health crisis. The settlement, $4 million, was the result of a federal lawsuit filed against the city by the family's attorney, John Burris, a civil rights attorney who has represented many families in the Bay Area who have died due to excessive force by law enforcement.

"The events of the day were tragic and difficult for all involved -- the Hall family, the Walnut Creek community, and the police officers called to the scene," the city of Walnut Creek said in a Friday news release. "While the City recognizes the continuing loss for the Hall family, it is the City's sincere hope that settlement of this civil lawsuit will provide a step towards healing."

A long court battle, the city's attorney Noah Blechman said in the release, "is not in the best interest of anyone involved."

The settlement, Hall's mother says, does not mean justice for her son. But it means the family can move on from legal proceedings and focus on the work they've started through the Miles Hall Foundation, pushing for a reformed response to mental health emergencies.

What Happened?

On June 2, 2019, local 911 received several calls about Hall threatening family members and walking around the neighborhood with a long metal pry bar. Of the five people who called 911 that day, four told dispatchers Hall had mental health problems, according to recordings released by police late last June.

When officers arrived, Hall was out on the street near his home, still holding the pry bar. When officers arrived on scene he began running in their direction, security camera footage shows. One officer fired several bean bag rounds but when those failed to stop Hall, two officers fired their weapons, according to a police news release.

Hall was taken to a nearby hospital, where he later died. The district attorney's investigation into the shooting will likely be complete and released to city officials by the end of the year, police say.

Hall's mother, Taun Hall, said she had been communicating with police long before the 911 calls came in that day. She did that to make sure they knew her son had mental health problems and that he had never acted out violently -- so that there would never be an outcome like the one that took his life. "People still need the police, we still need them to help and answer calls," she said. "But I mean, is it worth it when it could result in the death of your child? I say no."

In a police video released following the shooting, police said they had been involved on several other calls regarding Miles Hall. He had "no significant criminal history and the majority of these incidents were handled as mental health issues and not criminally prosecuted," Walnut Creek Police Lt. Tracie Reese said in the video. "The police were aware that Miles was mentally impaired," says John Burris, "The family was engaged with the police to protect their son from being shot and killed by the police. But point of fact is, the very thing they were protecting from actually happened."

Be sure to check out the upcoming documentary, "USE OF FORCE, coming to Premo this fall.