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$175K wrongful death settlement before Board of Estimates

The city’s spending panel is scheduled to approve Wednesday a $175,000 settlement with the family of a man shot and killed by police in July 2012.

The mother of Michael Omar Wudtee filed a $10 million wrongful death lawsuit in October 2013, according to court records. The case was scheduled for trial in February but was settled a month earlier, online records show.

Wudtee was shot by Officer Paul Heffernan on July 1, 2012 after an incident at a gas station at the intersection of Liberty Heights and Gwynn Oak avenues. According to Wudtee’s lawsuit, Wudtee was at the gas station “speaking with a loud tone of voice” to his girlfriend when Heffernan exited his patrol car and began walking toward the couple, at which point Wudtee started to run away.

Differing accounts

But according to a summary of the settlement included in the Board of Estimates’ agenda, Wudtee fled the gas station after Heffernan saw Wudtee standing outside a car and punching a woman sitting in the driver’s seat.

Wudtee’s lawsuit claims Heffernan caught up with Wudtee and grabbed him, causing Wudtee to fall and hit his head.

“As Wudtee lay motionless on the ground with Heffernan on top of him, Heffernan shot Wudtee at close range in the upper torso, fatally wounding him,” the complaint states.

The settlement summary, by contrast, states Wudtee and Heffernan got into a scuffle on the ground after Wudtee resisted arrest. Wudtee then “physically incapacitated” Heffernan by “crushing” his testicles, according to the agenda. Heffernan’s gun was exposed but the officer was able to push Wudtee away and “create sufficient distance between their bodies” to grab his gun weapon and fire one shot, according to the agenda, which notes: “An eyewitness provided an account that differed in some material respects.”

Heffernan was taken to Shock Trauma for his injuries, according to the agenda.

The Law Department is recommending the settlement because of “conflicting factual issues” and the uncertainties and unpredictability of jury verdicts,” according to the agenda.

Russell A. Neverdon Sr., a lawyer for Wudtee’s family, had no comment on the settlement. Wutdee also was represented by Michael A. Jeter, a Randallstown solo practitioner.

Wudtee’s lawsuit also sought damages for assault, battery, negligence and false arrest, among other counts.

The case is Alice Monroe v. P/O Paul Heffernan et al., 24C13006519.

Injury settlement

In a separate case, the Board of Estimates also will consider a $50,000 settlement with a Reisterstown woman who alleged she was injured when a dump truck backed into her car.

Josephine Utley underwent several months of treatment and will require “future corrective surgery and aftercare” as a result of the June 2012 accident, according to the board’s agenda.

The truck, backing up because it missed a stop, crushed the hood and broke the windshield of Utley’s sedan, according to the agenda.

Utley sought $170,000 in damages.

The case is Josephine Utley vs Henry Jose Prioleau et al., 24C13008435.