In December 2010, the City of Wilmington settled the wrongful death case of Derek J. Hale, who was killed in November of 2006.
In March 2007, the original law suit on behalf of Hale’s widow was filled without ACLU involvement.
The ACLU-DE began to represent Ms. Hale in 2009 after Stephen J. Neuberger and the Rutherford Institute, a Virginia-based human rights and civil liberties organization, withdrew from the suit.
Attached is a Washington Post story about Derek Hale's case.
Below is the statement that I issued on behalf of the ACLU-DE when the suit was settled.
The wrongful death suit against the City of Wilmington, prosecuted by the American Civil Liberties Union of Delaware and Arnold & Porter LLP, has been settled in favor of Derek J. Hale’s widow, Elaine Hale, for $875,000.
City officials insist that the police officers on the scene and the police department were not at fault in any way. Yet the city would not risk a jury trial. It knew that if it lost, the award to Mrs. Hale would probably have been even larger.
In the law suit, the ACLU-DE contended that the police did not have probable cause to arrest Mr. Hale, and that the use of excessive force by Wilmington police officers, and the failure to provide adequate training for police officers caused his death. These issues were not resolved by the law suit’s settlement and they remain a concern.
The response to the tragedy of Derek Hale’s death should not stop with the settlement payment. More is needed. The Wilmington Police Department must implement appropriate policies, procedures and training to prevent such a tragedy from occurring again.