AUSTIN, Texas — A jury in a federal civil trial has recommended that the City of Austin and two officers pay more than $67 million to the family of a man killed by police on Sixth Street in 2017.
Scott Hendler, human rights activist and lawyer, said this amount is a clear indication people want police accountability.
"What the verdict says to me is that jurors are beginning to become intolerant of this kind of police misconduct," said Hendler. "I think the jury wanted to make a powerful statement with this verdict."
The jury recommended the family of Landon Nobles receive $67,107,500, which could be reduced by a judge. A verdict derives from a lawsuit filed by the Nobles family back in 2019. That lawsuit came after Travis County District Attorney's Office ruled in 2018 that the officers' use of deadly force was justified. A letter describing the district attorney's reasoning can be found here.
Nobles, 24, died in a shooting after police said he ran away from officers with a handgun. Officers said at the time of the shooting that they perceived him as a threat.
The family of Nobles claimed in the lawsuit that officers used excessive force against Nobles. Witnesses in the crowd claimed Nobles was not displaying a gun and posed no danger when he was shot in the back, according to the lawsuit. You can find the lawsuit here.
KVUE spoke with Nobles' family in 2017. They demanded to see security footage of the shooting because they believed there was more to the story than what the Austin Police Department had revealed.
A video on YouTube appears to show what happened before and after the incident. Go here to watch.
DISCLAIMER: The video shown contains graphic material.
The jurors found that both officers' actions were "objectively unreasonable ... such as that no reasonable officer could have believed that the shooting was lawful," according to court documents. The amount of damages recommended in the verdict was based on physical pain, mental anguish, loss of companionship and punitive damages.
A spokesperson for the City of Austin provided the following statement Thursday:
“The City acknowledges the jury verdict and will explore all options as we move forward. The City and the officers are genuinely surprised by the verdict, both the question of liability and certainly on the dollar amount awarded.”
The City of Austin can choose to challenge the decision.
"Every defendant in a lawsuit has the right to petition the court to reduce the amount of the judgment, to even grant a new trial, which would effectively do away with the verdict altogether," added Handler.
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