City ordered to pay $2.5 million over death

Friday, July 11, 2003

HARTFORD, Conn. -- A federal jury ordered the city of East Haven to pay $2.5 million Thursday to the family of a black driver who was shot and killed by a white police officer in 1997.

The jury in the civil trial found that Sgt. Robert Flodquist used excessive force against Malik Jones, 21.

"Maybe this will give him peace," said Emma Jones, the victim's mother.

Flodquist shot Jones after a car chase that began in East Haven with reports of an erratic driver. The officer said he fired in self-defense when Jones tried to run him over.

A man who was riding with Jones testified that Jones was not driving erratically.

Flodquist was cleared of criminal wrongdoing after federal and state investigations. He was later promoted to sergeant and is now the spokesman for East Haven police.

Judge Alvin Thompson will discuss the judgment with lawyers Friday. He could throw out the claim if he sides with the defense on a motion that says the charges against East Haven are not founded.

"I'm hopeful he will toss it out," said Hugh Keefe, the attorney for Flodquist and the town. "If not, I'm confident the 2nd Circuit (Court of Appeals) will toss it out."

A second officer who was present at the shooting, Gary DePalma, was not found liable by the jury, which had deliberated for a week.

Lawyers for Jones' family had accused police in the New Haven suburb of targeting blacks.

"This hopefully will send a message to all police, that African-Americans should be treated like human beings and not wild animals," said state NAACP President James Griffin.

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