Nick Christie was a tourist from Ohio who died in pain as a result of pepper spray poisoning in Lee County. FOX 13 Investigates first broke this story, which occurred almost four years ago.
Today, law enforcement had to pay the price : $4 million for wrongful death, according to FOX 13's sources.
It is one of the largest payouts ever by law enforcement in the state. The settlement lets all parties involved avoid a trial.
"What Nick Christie went through, and what his family is entitled to be compensated for, was nothing short of torture," said Nick Dicello, attorney for widow Joyce Christie.
The Medical Examiner ruled Christie's death was a homicide because he had been "restrained and sprayed with pepper sprayed by law enforcement officers."
But nobody was ever criminally charged and the Lee County State Attorney cleared the sheriff's office of any wrongdoing. That motivated Christie's widow to push forward with the civil suit. After the settlement, FOX 13 contacted the Lee County Sheriff's Office, which sent us this statement, a quote from Sheriff Mike Scott:
"This afternoon, a settlement was reached during mediation in the lawsuit brought against the Sheriff's Office and its inmate health provider by the wife of the late Nicholas Christie. The Sheriff's Office portion of the settlement is paid through the Florida Sheriff's Risk Management Fund, a self-insurance program administered on behalf of many agencies across the state of Florida. The other portion will be paid by the inmate health provider to the Lee County Jail. The shares will be itemized in the final documents, which must be filed in both the Federal and Ohio court."
What does he say about allegations of torture inside his jail?
"The Sheriff respectfully declines further comment at this time," the statement concludes.
Dicello thinks the settlement will sent a strong message to Sheriff Scott.
"I would be shocked if the sheriff and the people responsible for that jail are not going to use this situation, and the substantial liability that ensued, to invoke some changes," Dicello said.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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