Baltimore officials agree to pay $135K to unarmed man shot by police

Baltimore’s spending panel has approved a $135,000 payment to settle a lawsuit filed by an unarmed man who was shot in the leg by police.

The payment to John Rau III settles the lawsuit he filed against police Major Byron Conaway and the Baltimore Police Department. The Board of Estimates, which is controlled by Mayor Catherine Pugh, voted for the deal.

At issue were the events of Sept. 28, 2015, near the 2400 block of Washington Boulevard in Morrell Park. Conaway approached Rau, suspecting narcotics activity, according to city officials.

Conaway said Rau did not respond to commands and refused to show his hands. Fearing Rau was armed, Conaway shot Rau in the thigh. No weapons and drugs were found on Rau.

Rau said he suffered physical, emotional, mental and financial injuries as a result of the shooting. He filed a lawsuit seeking $1 million in damages.

City lawyers said they decided to settle the case after reviewing the facts and legal issues involved in the suit.

In 2016, Baltimore prosecutors said the police commander did nothing illegal and determined the shooting was justified. The prosecutor who investigated the case told The Baltimore Sun at the time that Conaway had no way of knowing that Rau wasn't armed.

The shooting was captured by a surveillance camera.

Rau told investigators he couldn't initially tell who Conaway was, then was startled when the officer drew his firearm and pointed it toward him, according to his taped interview with police.

"I ain't do nothing, and you're pointing a gun at me," Rau said. "I just had a feeling he was going to shoot me. And he shot me."

lbroadwater@baltsun.com

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