Georgia settles $4.8 million with widow of black man killed by state police, lawyers say

“While the record-breaking settlement does not bring back her husband for widow Betty Lewis and other family members and loved ones, it sends a powerful message to the state and those in law enforcement and other positions of power that using unnecessary force against innocent citizens is unlawful, moral corrupt and subject to legal action,” said a statement from Hall and Lampros, Attorneys at Law.

Lewis, 60, was shot in the face and killed when officer Jacob Gordon Thompson, 27, tried to pull him over for a traffic offense in Screven County near Savannah.

When Lewis refused to stop, Thompson gave a brief chase before using a “precision intervention technique” and bringing the car to a halt in a ditch, according to a statement from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation at the time of the incident.

Thompson then fired a shot, hitting Lewis in the face. Lewis was pronounced dead on the spot.

“Our hearts mourn the loss of Betty Lewis, who lost her golden years with her husband to unjustified and unnecessary deadly violence during a routine traffic stop,” attorney Andrew Lampros said in the statement.

Thompson was charged with felony murder and aggravated assault, but a grand jury declined to indict him. He was fired from the Georgia Department of Public Safety.

CNN’s calls to Thompson’s attorney were not returned, but attorney Keith Barber declined to comment to the New York Times.

Lewis’ family has asked for a second grand jury to deal with the case. The US Attorney’s Office announced last year that it was consulting with the FBI regarding the circumstances surrounding the shooting.

“The events of that August night should never have happened. Shooting an unarmed man for no reason is ruthless and violates the liberties that the United States Constitution guarantees to all people,” Lampros said. “We were prepared to sue the police officer, the department and their leadership, making both constitutional and tort claims.”

The attorneys said the settlement was the largest in Georgia since at least 1990, citing historical data they obtained from the Georgia Department of Administrative Services through an Open Records request.

Kara Richardson, spokeswoman for the Georgia Attorney General’s office, confirmed the $4.8 million settlement but offered no further comment.

CNN has reached out to the Georgia State Patrol and Georgia State Administrative Services for comment, but has not yet received a response.