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$1.5 Million Settlement in Deadly Police Shooting

After a jury found liability in a police officer’s shooting of a fleeting motorist, the Town of North Branford, Connecticut, paid $1.5 million to settle the matter.

Officer Michael Breen made a traffic stop of a car driven by Steve Guerette on July 13, 1999. In the passenger seat was Victoria Cooper, 41. Breen suspected Guerette had drugs; Guerette exited his vehicle and fled on foot.

As Breen gave chase, Cooper slid into the driver’s seat and began to drive away on the side of the road. Breen, who was standing in the middle of the road, fired a shot into the hood. Cooper kept going, and as she passed Breen, he shot again into the side of the car, striking Cooper. She was killed as a result.

Her estate sued, alleging Breen was not in any danger. Breen argued he was in danger and followed his training by firing twice. The jury found Breen had an objective reasonable belief he was in danger, but it rejected his claim he was unable to safely get out of the way. It rejected an award of punitive damages.

Before the matter could be tried on compensatory damages, the Town of North Branford settled the matter on July 13, 2005. Cooper’s estate was represented by New Haven, Connecticut attorney David N. Rosen. See: Cooper v. Town of North Branford, USDC, D. Connecticut, Case No. 3-00-52.

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Related legal case

Cooper v. Town of North Branford