Anne Arundel County has agreed to pay $90,000 to settle the Maryland wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Donald Coates. The 20-year-old was shot dead by Anne Arundel County Police Officer Tommy Pleasant in 2005.
Earlier this year, Coates’s family members filed federal and state lawsuits seeking millions of dollars in damages. They claimed that Pleasant, who was a rookie and had been patrolling solo for just a month when the incident happened, acted wrongfully when he shot Coates, who was naked and unarmed at the time.
The shooting incident occurred on May 24, 2005. According to witnesses, Coates had called 911 while he was smoking marijuana in his home. He claimed that someone was trying to kill him. He then fired several shots before leaving the premise.
Pleasant saw Coates, who started running toward him. The then-22-year-old cop later explained that he thought Coates was on drugs and that his only choice was to shoot the naked man.
In September 2005, a grand jury found that Pleasant was not criminally liable for Coates’s shooting death. He continues to work as an Anne Arundel County police officer.
Excessive use of violence by police officers to apprehend suspects is considered a violation of one’s civil rights. It can also be grounds for a police brutality claim or a wrongful death lawsuit if someone is injured or killed.
Anne Arundel County Sued for Wrongful Death of Naked Man Shot by Cop, Lebowitz & Mzhen, July 7, 2008