Judge affirms settlement of lawsuit filed by family of man who died after police pulled him from car

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A judge has ordered the enforcement of a lawsuit settlement between Mississippi's capital city and the family of a man who died after police officers pulled him from a car while searching for a murder suspect.

George Robinson, 62, died in January 2019, days after the encounter with three Jackson police officers. His relatives sued the city in October 2019, saying Robinson was not the subject of any warrant and alleging the officers “brutally, viciously and mercilessly beat Mr. Robinson by striking and kicking him.”

The Jackson City Council on April 23 unanimously approved the payment of $17,786 to settle the lawsuit with Robinson's relatives, including his sister Bettersten Wade. City documents said the settlement was not an admission of liability by the city or the three officers named in the suit. Robinson was Black, as are the three officers.

But Wade’s attorney, Dennis Sweet III, released a letter April 24 saying the city violated a confidentiality agreement that was part of the settlement. Sweet said that because of the public disclosure and because the city “appears to claim or infer some sort of perceived victory,” Wade would continue suing the city.

In a ruling Friday, Circuit Judge Faye Peterson wrote that she found “no merit” in arguments made by Sweet. Peterson wrote that the plaintiffs and the city had entered a legally binding settlement.

“Moreover, the City of Jackson cannot legally choose to keep settlements confidential, and this fact does not amount to some abstract form of fraudulent misrepresentation,” Peterson wrote.

Robinson had been hospitalized for a stroke days before the police encounter and was on medication, Wade has said. He had a seizure hours after he was beaten, and he died two days later from bleeding on his brain.

Second-degree murder charges against two of the officers were dropped in the case. In August 2022, a Hinds County jury convicted former detective Anthony Fox of culpable negligence manslaughter. In January of this year, the Mississippi Court of Appeals overturned Fox’s conviction. A majority of the appeals court wrote that prosecutors failed to prove Fox “acted in a grossly negligent manner” or that Robinson’s death “was reasonably foreseeable under the circumstances.”

Wade is the mother of Dexter Wade, who was run over by an off-duty Jackson Police Department officer in March 2023.

Dexter Wade was buried at the Hinds County Pauper’s Cemetery. But it was October before his mother was told about the burial. His body was exhumed Nov. 13, and an independent autopsy was conducted. A wallet found in the pocket of his jeans contained his state identification card with his home address, credit card and a health insurance card, said civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Wade’s family.

On Nov. 20, Dexter Wade’s family held a funeral for him, and he was buried in another cemetery.