The Social Significance of Settlements

Personal Injury

The Social Significance of Settlements

By Sean Lally, Staff Writer

On July 19th 2015, Samuel DuBose was pulled over for not having a front license plate. Moments later he was shot and killed by officer Ray Tensing.  After much grieving, the DuBose family found a small degree of solace this past Monday when they reached a settlement with the University of Cincinnati that includes:

  • A payment of $4.85 million.
  • Full paid tuition at UC for DuBose’s twelve children.
  • A memorial in honor of DuBose that will take place on campus.
  • An apology from Santa Ono, the UC President.
  • An offer to participate in the Community Advisory Committee meetings where they will take part in the ongoing effort to improve public safety policy.

Of course, in situations such as these, a settlement is not a cure for the family’s misery nor is it a panacea for something as endemic as police brutality against African Americans. For the family, it is a step in the healing process. In terms of widespread police brutality, it is a step beyond monetary restitution, toward social responsibility.  In effect, this settlement is a part of a larger movement that seeks justice for all the silenced victims of systemic violence.

The Bigger Picture

It’s no secret that DuBose is just one among many victims of so called law enforcement homicide.  At UC he is the third African American, along with Kelly Brinson and Everette Howard, to be wrongfully killed by university police. So it should come as no surprise that the University, under the leadership of President Ono, has created two new positions related to safety and policing and has organized a Community Advisory Committee that will “provide guidance on UC Police reform efforts,” according to the University website.  Furthermore the school recently brought in Kroll Inc., a private investigative firm, to conduct a neutral investigation of the DuBose case.

But will the reforms that come from these appointments be enough in light of the deep-seated police violence that plagues this country? According to Campaign Zero, an initiative associated with the Black Lives Matter movement, there are ten imperatives to consider when approaching police reform:

  • End broken windows policing , which means ending the extreme enforcement of low-level crimes.
  • Community oversight.
  • Limit use of force.
  • Independently investigate and prosecute.
  • Community representation.
  • Body cams / film the police.
  • Training.
  • End for-profit policing.
  • Demilitarization.
  • Fair police union contracts.

If there is a serious effort to improve policing at the federal, state and local level in accordance with these guidelines, Campaign Zero believes that the United States can join the ranks of countries like Germany, the UK, or Australia who reported single digit police killings in 2011 as opposed to our 1,100 in 2014. 

A Step in the Right Direction

The actions taken by UC and the settlement with the DuBose family can be seen as steps toward the Campaign Zero model as well as steps toward closure for those in mourning.  At the very least, there will now be a community forum where local people can take part in the conversation about police reform, which is nothing to balk at.  In the words of DuBose’s sister, Terina DuBose-Allen, "If that committee actually does the work that aligns with the proposed reforms, then this will not be happening to another family in Cincinnati."

For more information about Campaign Zero visit their website at


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