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Jury Awards Family Of Mentally Ill Man $100,000 In Wrongful Death Lawsuit

A Mecklenburg County jury awarded $100,000 to the family of a mentally ill man who was shot by police in 2013, according to multiple reports.

The jury unanimously found that Officers Jeremy Donaldson and Michael Whitlock acted negligently when Donaldson shot and killed Spencer Mims III in January 2013, according to a report by WSOC-TV. The wrongful death lawsuit was brought on by Mims’ family and the decision follows a week-long trial.

Donaldson and fellow Officer Michael Whitlock responded to a call at a home in south Charlotte on Jan. 6, 2013. When they arrived on the scene, they found Mims on the front porch, holding a box cutter to his own neck and threatening to kill himself.

According to testimony, Whitlock attempted to Taser Mims without success. Donaldson attempted to handcuff Mims, when Mims lunged at the officer with the box cutter. This prompted Donaldson to shoot the man three times out of self-defense, the defense said.

Attorneys for the Mims family said in their closing arguments that Donaldson acted recklessly, arguing that he did not wait long enough after Whitlock deployed his Taser and saying that Mims was shot in the back.

The defense attorney representing Donaldson and the City of Charlotte said Mims had a violent streak and psychological issues that were heightened by intoxication the night of the altercation. The defense argued that Donaldson acted reasonably out of self-defense in a situation that quickly spun out of control.

Both Donaldson and Whitlock were cleared of wrongdoing by the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office and CMPD in January 2013.

Jessa O’Connor was an assistant digital news editor and Sunday reporter for WFAE.