Members of the Greensboro City Council said they would like to settle the lawsuit over the death of Marcus Deon Smith under certain conditions.
The statements came from councilmembers at the virtual City Council meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 1, in response to a number of speakers at the public forum who demanded that the city stop spending money on lawyers and settle the lawsuit.
Marcus Smith died on Sept. 8, 2018 of cardiopulmonary arrest after police had restrained him in handcuffs and a Ripp Hobble device in a position that is commonly called hogtying. Marcus Smith was in a highly agitated state, running in and out of traffic before being restrained by police in order to transport him to the hospital. His death was ruled a homicide and his parents George and Mary Smith, as his sole heirs, filed a lawsuit against the City of Greensboro.
Councilmember Michelle Kennedy said, “Marcus was somebody that I knew really well. Someone I saw everyday and talked to everyday.”
She said, “He was part of my community and somebody that I cared about.”
Kennedy said, “His kids mattered tremendously to him.”
She said that until she was certain that the children of Marcus Smith would be protected and provided for in any settlement, she could not support it.
Kennedy said, “For me that’s the hang-up.”
She added, “His kids are something that I can and am willing to fight for.”
Mayor Nancy Vaughan said, “The city stands willing to settle this case.”
However, she added, “The city must be certain that it is negotiating with the rightful heirs.”
She also said, “Both parties must be able to consider what is fair and reasonable.”
At present the fact that Marcus Smith had children has not been established by the courts and the children in question are not party to the lawsuit that was filed by George and Mary Smith.
Vaughan said, “We are in a civil lawsuit with the Smith family now who claim to be the only members of the family. They said that they are his family and are his heirs.”
The court could rule that the children are the rightful heirs.
She added, “I do want to assure everyone that there has been a lot of work that has gone into this and we are committed to a fair and universal settlement.”
Councilmember Sharon Hightower said, “I would like a settlement too. We are thinking about those children Michelle was talking about. Any settlement without them is not a settlement that I would agree to.”
She added, “It is not moving as fast as people would like but I want it to be thorough and I want it to be fair.”
Councilmember Yvonne Johnson said, “What I’m hoping is that we can reach a settlement.”
No councilmember spoke against settling the lawsuit.