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Settlement near for widow of man who died in police custody

Settlement near for widow of man who died in police custody

Andrew Kearse died in 2017
Settlement near for widow of man who died in police custody
Andrew and Angelique Kearse.
Photographer: Photo provided

SCHENECTADY — A settlement is near for the widow of a man who died in police custody in 2017, according to an attorney.

“The case has been settled subject to approval of the mayor, which we’re awaiting,” said Sanford Rubenstein, who is representing Angelique Negroni-Kearse, the widow of Andrew Kearse, a Bronx resident who died after fleeing a traffic stop in Schenectady on May 11, 2017. 

Kearse became unresponsive while being transported to the police station after informing the officer he couldn't breathe and called out for help dozens of times.

Rubenstein said the parties conferred with U.S. Magistrate Christian Hummel, who he said was “very helpful.”

The city corporation counsel declined comment on Thursday, citing pending litigation.

The City Council authorized the city’s legal team to negotiate a settlement in July. 

Councilman Vince Riggi, chairman of the city's Claims Committee, previously said their approval was contingent on the city's out-of-pocket contribution to the settlement not exceed their insurance deductible, which is $100,000 for police-related claims. 

“We’re waiting for the mayor to release that amount,” Rubenstein said. 

Negroni-Kearse’s initial notice of claim sought $25 million in damages.

The two sides previously failed to reach an agreement during the mediation process. 

A grand jury declined to file charges against a city police officer in connection with the death, which was ruled to be due to cardiac arrhythmia. 

The attorney general’s office launched an investigation and a final report revealed Kearse's heart issues stemmed from a pre-existing medical condition. An expert cardiologist concluded his condition deteriorated rapidly, but a limited window existed where medical intervention could have saved his life. 

The state's top legal office recommended systemic changes in how police departments around the state handle medical emergencies, saying the man's death "never should have happened."

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