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Westside : Settlement Reached in Wrongful Death Suit

The family of saxophonist Donald Myrick, who was killed by a Santa Monica police officer two years ago, has settled its lawsuit against the city for $400,000.

The former Earth, Wind and Fire band member was shot down when police mistook a butane lighter he was holding for a gun while serving a search warrant at his West Los Angeles apartment in 1993.

Police also mistook the well-known musician--who had a “minimal amount of cocaine” in his apartment--for a drug dealer, said Carol Watson, attorney for Myrick’s mother, Antoinette Myrick.

The settlement will be shared by Myrick’s mother, wife and three children.

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Watson said Santa Monica police admitted obtaining and using a key to enter Myrick’s home. Santa Monica City Atty. Marsha Jones Moutrie said the police knocked as they entered Myrick’s residence, but an investigative report by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said, “had the officers strictly complied with the knock-notice requirements . . . there is a possibility that this tragic death would not have occurred.”

Watson said she had hoped for an award in the $1-million range, except for one legal problem. At the time of the shooting, Myrick had leukemia and his life span, which has a bearing on monetary damages, could not be ascertained.

Although the leukemia was in a chronic state, which meant he could have lived for years, the potential for a relapse also existed.

“They were able to take advantage of the fact this man had a disease,” Watson said. “It’s a shame.”

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Attorneys for both sides told a federal judge they had reached an agreement, although the Santa Monica City Council has to approve the settlement.


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