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The family of Colby Friday, a Black man shot and killed by Stockton police in 2016, reportedly agreed to a $3.24 million settlement. His daughters had filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Stockton, the Stockton Police Department, Police Chief Eric. T Jones, and officer David Wells in 2017.
According to California’s wrongful death law, a wrongful death is characterized by a cause of action for the death of a person caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another. Surviving family members are typically entitled to bring a wrongful death claim in court for acts based on negligence, gross negligence, recklessness, and especially for a deliberate wrongful act. Damages in a wrongful death claim are meant to compensate surviving family members for the loss of tangible and intangible forms of support they reasonably should have expected to receive had the victim not lost his or her life — including if the case is wrongful death by police. Wrongful death claims against the police are often fought tooth and tail, yet sometimes are settled quickly in order to avoid bad publicity.
Friday’s family released a statement, saying his death will forever haunt his children. “Colby’s girls will never get to say, ‘Hi Dad.’ David Wells will forever be out there terrorizing our communities and streets till we revoke the California police officer bill of rights.”
According to Stockton police at the time, Wells confronted Friday after he matched the description of a robbery suspect. Friday ran away from the officer, and then fought with Wells, which is when police say the shooting occured.
Friday’s family reportedly argued in court that Wells shot him in the back. A witness even claimed they heard Wells say, “I am going to shoot you in the back.”
Wells did not have his body camera on — which is a violation of the city of Stockton and SPD policy,— and Jones told ABC10 that the officer was disciplined for it. The district attorney, however, declined to prosecute Wells and he remains a Stockton police officer. Wells was also one of three Stockton police officers involved in the July 2020 shooting death of Antwane Burrise.
The attorney for Friday’s family said in a statement that Wells had been identified in the Stockton community prior to the shooting as an abusive officer. He also claimed Wells only stopped Friday because he fit the description “of another black man.” “Wells had never seen the person who was wanted and he had never even seen a photograph of the wanted person, but the person they were seeking was a Black male, 6 feet tall with hair described as being in cornrows,” Merin reportedly said.