HALL & LAMPROS REACHES RECORD $4.8 MILLION SETTLEMENT FOR WIDOW OF JULIAN E. LEWIS
Largest pre-litigation settlement in Georgia history for widow of Julian E. Lewis, who was shot and killed by Georgia State Patrol trooper without cause.
ATLANTA – MARCH 31, 2022 – Leading civil rights and personal injury litigation firm Hall & Lampros, LLP has secured a record $4.8 million settlement with the state of Georgia for the widow of Julian E. Lewis, who was shot and killed in 2020 by a Georgia State Patrol trooper who pulled him over on a rural highway for an alleged broken taillight that was not, in fact, broken.
The Lewis tort settlement is the largest in Georgia history in state records dating back to 1990, according to data provided by the Georgia Department of Administrative Services through an Open Records request. The settlement exceeds the statutory maximum provided under the Georgia Tort Claims Act.
While the record-making settlement does not bring back her husband for widow Betty Lewis and other family and loved ones, it sends a powerful message to the State and those in law enforcement and other positions of power that unnecessary use of force against innocent citizens is unlawful, morally corrupt and carries legal consequences. Lewis was fatally shot on a quiet rural road in Screven County in southeast Georgia while driving to the store to buy an orange soda for his wife on his way home from work.
“Our hearts grieve for Betty Lewis, who lost her Golden Years with her husband because of unwarranted and unnecessary deadly force during what should have been a routine traffic stop,” said Andrew Lampros, Co-Founder & Partner at Hall & Lampros in Atlanta, a leading boutique firm specializing in civil rights, personal injury and employment litigation. “The events of that August night should never have happened. Shooting an unarmed man without cause is unconscionable, and violates the freedom that the United States Constitution guarantees all individuals. We were prepared to sue the trooper, the department and its leadership asserting both Constitutional claims as well as state law tort claims.”
Lampros worked alongside co-counsel Akil K. Secret, who recently joined Hall & Lampros as Of Counsel, and Bob Isaacson of Savannah. The matter was mediated by Hon. Gino Brogdon, Sr., a respected mediator and arbitrator who previously presided in complex felony and civil cases for a decade in Superior and State Courts in Fulton County in Atlanta.
On the night of Aug. 7, 2020, Lewis, who is Black, was driving to the store when a Georgia State Patrol trooper, who is Caucasian, activated his lights indicating Lewis should pull over on the otherwise deserted country road.
It is believed that Lewis was attempting to drive toward a more familiar area where he knew other people would be present — a practice commonly taught to people who may feel vulnerable in isolated areas where there is nobody else present to witness events. Lewis activated his turn signals in both directions, which is often a sign of acknowledgement to an officer.
The trooper then crashed into Lewis’s Nissan Sentra using a precision immobilization technique (PIT maneuver) with sufficient force to spin Lewis’s car in the opposite direction. According to Georgia Bureau of Investigation testimony, less than 2 seconds passed from the time the trooper opened the door to his vehicle and fired a shot that killed 60-year-old Lewis instantly. In an incident report, the trooper wrote that he heard the engine on Lewis’s vehicle “revving at a high rate of speed” after the PIT maneuver crash, making him fear for his life and prompting the shooting.
An investigation after the accident proved that neither taillight on Lewis’s car was in a condition to justify probable cause for a stop, and that the PIT maneuver caused Lewis’s battery cable and air filter to disengage — which completely disabled the engine in his Nissan Sentra, making it impossible to rev as the trooper stated in the incident report. Georgia officials have refused to release patrol car dashcam video footage of the incident, and the trooper was not wearing a body camera.
Use of force by the Georgia Department of Public Safety occurs more frequently with Black individuals than any other demographic. The department’s most recent report for 2018 showed 1,725 incidents involving use of force, and 59% of those were with Black individuals. Black people account for just 33% of the population in the state of Georgia, according to the U.S. Census data for 2021.
Georgia Department of Public Safety policies require the department to create an annual use of force statistical analysis. Joan Crumpler, Director of the Legal Services Division for the Georgia Department of Public Safety, acknowledged that the department did not engage in the analysis or create reports for 2019 or 2020.
ABOUT HALL & LAMPROS, LLP
Hall & Lampros, LLP was founded in 2003 by Christopher B. Hall and Andrew Lampros and has since become one of the leading firms in the Southeast for personal injury, class actions, civil rights, employment and discrimination litigation. The firm has obtained numerous multi-million dollar settlements and jury verdicts for clients nationwide, including cases involving wrongful death, industrial accidents, vehicle crashes, wage and overtime cases, and class action cases against insurance companies. Learn more about Hall & Lampros.
Mary Jane Credeur of The Credeur Group
mj [@] credeurgroup.com
Chris has successfully represented numerous clients in catastrophic personal injury, employment law matters, class action, consumer protection, business tort, and legislative matters involving multi-million-dollar damages.