Schenectady council readies vote on $1.5 million settlement for fatal 2016 police shooting


SCHENECTADY — A Schenectady City Council vote on a proposed $1.5 million city settlement with the family of a man shot and killed by a city detective could come as soon as the council’s next meeting on Dec. 12.

The settlement proposal appeared on the agenda during the council’s Claims Committee meeting on Dec. 5.

Following an executive session to discuss the proposal internally, Schenectady City Council President Marion Porterfield said a resolution regarding the settlement may be on the agenda for the board’s meeting next Monday evening at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

During mediation with U.S. District Court Northern District Magistrate Judge Hon. Christian Hummel in October, the city reached a $1.5 million settlement with Chrystal Scism, the widow of Joshua Scism, the 33-year-old man shot and killed during a confrontation with Schenectady Police Detective Brett Ferris in 2016.

The settlement, which will be paid by the city’s insurance provider, must be approved by the city council.

“These are always unfortunate sets of circumstances,” Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy said. “We’re moving toward a resolution, which will probably be formalized next Monday. The city is in a generally good position in terms of mitigating our risk and how we manage our insurance. Not only for this situation, but for other things that tend to come up in a municipality.”

In 2018, Chrystal Scism filed a federal lawsuit alleging that her husband’s death was the result of excessive lethal force by Ferris.

In August, a mistrial was declared in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of New York in Albany when a jury remained deadlocked on the question of Ferris’ use of force.

While lawyers for both sides declared following the mistrial that they would be willing to hold a second trial, a settlement was reached on Oct. 13 during mediation.

Joshua Scism was shot by Ferris June 13, 2016 after Scism approached a minivan containing three undercover police officers and a confidential informant on First Avenue.

Following a verbal exchange between Scism and the officers where Scism told the plain clothes officers to leave his neighborhood, Scism turned to leave and the officers observed a gun in the waistband in Scism’s pants.

Ferris subsequently pulled his own weapon and exited the van, yelling at Scism to get on the ground. Ferris then fir ed six shots over the course of 1.7 seconds, with the fatal shot hitting Scism in the back of the head.

During the closing arguments of the August trial, Scism attorney Andrew Finkelstein asked the jury to award damages between $10 million and $15 million to the plaintiff.

The settlement, which does not include an admission of fault, ultimately was reached at $1.5 million, with council approval still needed to finalize the deal.

Categories: News, News, Schenectady, Schenectady County

One Comment

Bill Marincic

A guy with a gun in a drug-prone neighborhood goes to a van with a visible pistol and orders them off the street. The police get out of the van and order the guy to get down while I’m sure telling the man he is the police, the man turns with his hand going toward his waistband and the officer opens fire to protect himself and his partners. Six shots in less than 2 seconds are average because you shoot until you know the subject is down also. The city is fools to take this deal.

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