ORLANDO, Fla. - A group of Orange County sheriff's deputies have settled a wrongful death lawsuit filed against them by the family of Torey Breedlove.
In 2010, deputies fired 137 rounds at the suspected car thief, who deputies say tried to ram them with his truck. Breedlove was struck 22 times. As part of the settlement, the 10 deputies named in the lawsuit have agreed to pay Breedlove's four surviving children $450,000--$195,000 for each child. The family's attorney who filed the lawsuit will receive $255,000 for various costs and fees.
The funding comes from the Florida Sheriff Risk Management Fund, an insurance provider that covers most Florida sheriff agencies for liability claims.
The family's attorneys say the apparent lack of damage to Breedlove's truck bumper shows he didn't ram any patrol cars. But sheriff radio transmissions from that night suggest Breedlove's truck was in motion.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Orange County Sheriff's Office determined the deputies did not violate any laws or policies. A grand jury also cleared the deputies of any wrongdoing.
In April, a federal judge denied the deputies' request to dismiss the lawsuit. U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell said the evidence suggests a deputy rammed into Breedlove, "not the other way around." He added that a jury might determine "the conduct at issue here is more akin to an execution than an attempt to arrest an unarmed suspect." Three months later, the parties reached a settlement during mediation.
"Things went wrong. Mistakes were made. But no one has been the bigger person to say what that was," Breedlove's sister Tiffanye told Local 6 in 2011.
The Orange County Sheriff's Office issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon, saying "The difficult decision to resolve this complex litigation should not be construed as an admission of wrongdoing. Instead, it reveals that the Breedlove estate, the Orange County Sheriff's Office, and the deputies shared a desire to resolve their differences and move forward."
OCSO also pointed out that every day law enforcement officers make split-second life and death decisions and that any loss of life is unfortunate and traumatic to everyone involved. "The Orange County Sheriff‘s Office remains committed to protecting the rights of all people, reaffirms its commitment to keeping our communities safe and strives to implement best law enforcement practices," read the statement.
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