The Dayton City Commission has approved a legal settlement in a wrongful death complaint filed by the mother and estate of Michael Tuck Sr., who was shot and killed by a Dayton police officer.
Dayton will pay $300,000 to Tuck’s mother and attorney and $200,000 to Metlife Assignment Company Inc.
On Aug. 22, 2019, Tuck, 29, was fatally shot by officer Cody Hartings. Tuck ran from a traffic stop and when caught, allegedly grabbed the officer’s Taser and pointed it at him.
Tuck’s mother, Renita Tuck-Walker, sued Hartings, the city and the police chief, claiming her son’s civil rights were violated because Hartings used excessive and unreasonable force.
Cruiser camera video captured the traffic stop, but Dayton police did not regularly wear body cameras at the time, so there is not police video of the shooting, which happened over 300 yards away after Tuck fled.
Mediation was held in early November, and the parties agreed to a settlement that dismisses the case.
The payment to Metlife will provide structured payments to Tuck’s two children — $100,000 each — and the other payment goes to the executor of the estate, which will pay attorneys, expenses and the remainder will go to the mother, said John Musto, Dayton’s assistant city attorney.
Musto declined further comment, saying the city generally does not comment on legal settlements.
Robert Gresham, an attorney with Wright & Schulte who represented the plaintiff, said there were disputed witness claims and statements, and evidence contradicting Hartings’ claims about what happened, but Tuck is not alive to tell his side of the story.
“Generally, Mr. Tuck’s family believes this was a tragic and avoidable situation and Michael should still be with us,” he said, adding that Tuck was the father of two young children.
“This outcome allows the family to attempt to move forward with the grieving process without this lawsuit constantly re-opening the wound of their loss,” Gresham said.
Tuck was driving a vehicle that was pulled over by Dayton police in an alley between Gramont and Anna streets in West Dayton.
Police said they pulled over the vehicle for erratic driving, and Tuck got out of the vehicle and ran away.
Officer Hartings chased Tuck and said when he caught up to him, a struggle ensued in an area near Brooklyn Avenue.
In an audio recording of police radio traffic, Hartings can be heard saying, “He’s trying to take my Taser.”
Tuck-Walker’s lawsuit in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court claimed that Hartings used deadly force without justification and that the city and police department failed their duty to provide adequate training to Hartings about proper use of deadly force.
But the defendants in court filings claimed the city, the police department and officer Hartings are immune from liability, and the officer’s actions were objectively reasonable and did not rise to the level of misconduct.
Hartings said Tuck ignored his commands and asked the officer to shoot him, according to a memo filed as part of the defendants’ motion for summary judgment.
Hartings said he unsuccessfully tried to tase Tuck, and during a struggle, Tuck knocked his taser from his hands and picked it up and pointed it at him, the memo states.
Hartings said he feared that Tuck would immobilize him with his Taser and take his weapon and kill him, the memo states, and Hartings fired two shots, hitting Tuck once, with the bullet striking his arm and torso.
The Dayton Daily News requested Hartings’ personnel file this week, but had not received it as of late Wednesday.
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