ADRIAN, MICHIGAN -- On Monday, the family of an 18-year-old shot and killed by a Michigan State Trooper accepted a $650,000 settlement, which had been recommended by a court-appointed facilitator.
Let's backtrack to take a look at what happened.
It's Dec. 11, 2003. Jesalynn Simons is leading Michigan State Police on a high speed chase through the streets of Adrian. The 18-year-old had fled a traffic stop north of the city, triggering a chase by Trooper David Rivard.
Minutes later, Simons is forced off U.S. 223 near Wolf Creek Highway. Trooper Rivard steps out of his patrol car and away from her path. What happens next has been the crux of the controversy surrounding her death.
The tapes show the high-speed chase, then Simons' car attempting to get away after stopping. She drives toward the trooper after he gets out of his car. The tape shows Trooper Rivard jumping out of her path and firing a shot through the passenger door window of her car as she drives away. The bullet hit an artery in her leg, and she died later that evening.
Trooper Rivard had testified that he was acting in self-defense. Assistant Michigan Attorney General Margaret Nelson argued the shooting was justified, adding that Simons had committed many felonious assaults during the pursuit and just before the shooting.
The lawsuit brought by Simons' family claimed the shooting was not justified. Attorney Courtney Morgan argued that the self defense theories were flawed.
Judge Timothy P. Pickard had rejected a motion to dismiss the case though Trooper Rivard claimed the shooting was in self defense. Pickard had reviewed a videotape of the shooting and then sent the case to a facilitator. It was that facilitator -- a retired judge -- who recommended the $650,000 settlement.
No fault or liability is being admitted as part of the settlement. That means the case was resolved without any finding of which side in the case was right or wrong in the death of Jesalynn Simons.
Posted by KO