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Michigan Family Donating $2.2 Million Settlement for Police Officer’s Killing of Unarmed Man

The City of Sandusky, Michigan has agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle litigation stemming from one of its police officers unlawfully killing an unarmed man. The man's father said that the money will be donated to charities and police departments, including the one that employed the officer who killed his son. "Money isn't going to bring him back, but hopefully we can use the money in his name to do some good and to avoid having something like this happen again," he said. He hopes the money will be used for training.

By all accounts, Kent Kramer lived an exemplary and productive life before tragedy struck. He was an active and productive student in high school, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology, and held several jobs that utilized his people skills. He was very keen on helping people, particularly young persons. He and his family enjoyed a warm and close relationship.

That was all shattered on February 27, 2010 when Sandusky City police officer Scott Mintz improvidently and unreasonably shot an unarmed Kramer. The incident began when Kramer’s car slid off the snow-covered roadway into the curb near the bank he worked at, only blocks away from his home.

Several good Samaritans were helping push Kramer’s car onto the roadway when Mintz arrived on the scene. Once the car was on the road, Mintz told the civilians to leave, which they did. Mintz then began an investigation into the circumstances of Kramer’s mishap.

Mintz, who some locals of the 2,000 population city described as a “young cowboy” or “quick draw McGraw,” confirmed Kramer’s identity and vehicle information and that he had no warrants or other adverse information. About 18 minutes into the investigatory stop, Mintz decided to arrest Kramer on DUI on the belief that he had failed sobriety tests.

After deciding to arrest Kramer without any help, Mintz told him to turn around for handcuffing, which he did. Kramer hesitated and asked “if there was anything else that could be done about this.” The two men stood a few feet apart between either of their vehicles; Kramer kept talking and offered nominal resistance as Mintz called for backup.

Rather than wait for other officers who were only a few minutes away, Mintz escalated the matter by shooting Kramer with his Taser. The Taser was ineffective and Kramer became loud and agitated. Mintz easily moved about 180 feet from the place he used the Taser, separating himself by at least 30-40 feet from the Kramer, who was unarmed.

Mintz turned and faced Kramer when he was 27-30 feet away. In a panic, Mintz drew his gun. He shot ten rounds in two separate bursts of five. The first burst wounded Kramer in the lower torso and arm. The fatal wound from a round to the chest and heart came in the second burst. Kramer was pronounced dead on the scene.

The civil rights complaint alleged Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment violations, as well as a state law claim for wrongful death. The $2.2 million settlement was reached in July 2012, and approved by the district court the following month. Kramer’s estate was represented by Detroit attorneys Hugh M. Davis and Cynthia M. Heenan, and Troy attorney Robert D. Horvath. See: Kramer v. Mintz, U.S.D.C. (E.D. Mich.), Case No. 1:12-cv-10767-TLL-CEB.

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Related legal case

Kramer v. Mintz