The Bradenton City Council agreed to pay $200,000 Wednesday to the family of a man who was shot to death in 1995 by a city police officer.City Attorney Bill Lisch told the council that the Florida League of Cities, the city’s insurance agent, will pay the money to the family of Patrick Pierre, who was shot by police officer John Schlemmer.
Lisch said the Florida League of Cities felt it was in the city’s best interest to forgo the possibility of lengthy court proceedings and settle the lawsuit.
“This is not an admission of liability,” Lisch said. “This is a business and financial consideration. This should not be construed as any admission of liability.”
Pierre, 24, was shot and killed by Schlemmer in October 1995 following a foot chase through his neighborhood in the 2300 block of 13th Avenue East.
Schlemmer came to the complex to resolve a landlord-tenant dispute issue involving Pierre.
Schlemmer was cleared by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, who found the city officer acted properly.
Some witnesses said Pierre threatened to throw a quart-size bottle at Schlemmer while others said he posed no threat.
Schlemmer was named “Officer of the Year” in April by the Southwest Florida Chapter of the Police Benevolent Association and was promoted from corporal to sergeant in June.
Chris Knopik, the attorney for the Pierre family, said the family pursued the lawsuit to punish the police department’s conduct and to prevent another unnecessary shooting death from happening again.
Pierre is survived by two brothers who live in the Bradenton-Sarasota area and two sisters in New York.
His mother resides in Immokalee.
As part of the settlement, Knopik said the police department has agreed to require each officer to undergo discretionary shooting and decision-making training.
Knopik implied that if this training was in place, then it may have prevented Pierre’s death.
“I expect for this to be carried out fairly quickly,” Knopik said. “I’m pleased (the council) has voted to approve the settlement. The family is pleased.”
The Pierre family filed a lawsuit in a Tampa federal court shortly after the shooting, and the case was scheduled for trial in August.
The family alleged that Patrick Pierre’s civil rights were violated.
Mayor Bill Evers said he reluctantly supports the motion.
Evers said the case unnecessarily placed the city in an awkward position.
“They are telling us for $200,000 we can get out of it. You may not be guilty,” Evers said. “But if you go on, it’s going to cost you more. Do you gamble with the taxpayers’ money?”