Sacramento reveals amount paid to settle police shooting death lawsuit — 6 months later

Five years after Sacramento police shot 19-year-old Darell Richards to death in the backyard of a Curtis Park home while he was holding a replica handgun and suffering from mental issues, city records show the case has been settled for a nominal payment of $100,000.

The settlement was agreed to last September following years of legal wrangling, vigils and a trial in 2022 that ended in a deadlocked jury, but city officials and lawyers for Richards’ family would not discuss the terms of the agreement that led to the dismissal of a federal civil rights lawsuit.

Instead, the city waited until last week to post the terms of the $100,000 settlement, which was made without any admission of liability and was signed by Richards’ mother, Khoua Vang, on Oct. 30.

Despite the agreement last year, city officials refused to release any paperwork involving the deal, and attorneys for the family, Melissa Nold and Adante Pointer, did not respond to requests for details on how much the city agreed to pay to settle the lawsuit.

City spokesman Tim Swanson did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday on why the documents revealing the settlement were not posted publicly for six months.

The Richards case was one of the higher-profile shooting deaths by Sacramento-area law enforcement in recent years, spawning vigils, a lawsuit against the city by The Sacramento Bee and an 11-day trial in 2022 in federal court that ended with the jury unable to reach a unanimous verdict.

Richards, a Black man, was shot to death at 3 a.m. on Sept. 6, 2018, after being pursued and found in a Curtis Park backyard.

Testimony showed he was suffering from mental issues and carrying a pellet gun that was a replica of a handgun, and Officers Todd Edgerton and Patrick Cox shot him 10 times after they believed he was pointing a handgun at another officer.

Lawyers for Richards’ parents, Vang and Ted Richards Jr., argued that Richard was raising his hands to surrender when he was killed and likened the shooting to a “botched SWAT operation.”

The shooting occurred six months after Sacramento police shot and killed another young black man, Stephon Clark, who they said they believed had pointed a handgun at them in the dark backyard of his grandparents’ home.

Clark was unarmed and found later to be carrying only a cellphone, and his death generated protests and marches nationwide, including some that shut down portions of downtown Sacramento and led to dozens of arrests.

Attorneys for the Richards family vowed to re-try the case, and pursued a new trial until days before the scheduled Oct. 2, 2023, retrial was to begin.

Instead of proceeding, they filed a notice of settlement Sept. 27 that led to the dismissal of the case.

The $100,000 payout is a relatively small amount for a case of its nature, with the city agreeing to pay $2.4 million to Clark’s sons and $1.7 million to his parents.