Settlement Reached in Clarence Beard Case

Clarence Beard, Jr.

Reporter: Jeremy Mills

Lynchburg, VA - A settlement in the wrongful death lawsuit against several Lynchburg Police Officers in the 2006 death of Clarence Beard, Jr. has been reached.

Beard died at his James Crossing Apartment on September 24, 2006 while in police custody.

In 2008, his sister, Mary Beard Peterson, filed a $12.5 million lawsuit against seven Lynchburg police officers involved in the incident. The lawsuit named seven Lynchburg police officers. It alleged gross negligence, assault and battery and false arrest.

The case was set to go to trial Tuesday, but the Lynchburg Circuit Court clerk's office confirmed that a settlement had been reached outside of court Monday.

We've tried to uncover the details of the settlement, but neither side will divulge exactly how much the family will be getting.

An autopsy showed that Beard died of severe coronary artery disease. Lynchburg Police had entered his home, looking for someone else. Officers admit to pepper-spraying him, after they say he punched one of them. Investigations by Lynchburg Police, State Police and reviewed by the Commonwealth Attorney's office did clear the officers of wrongdoing.

The family says police mistreated the 46-year-old Beard and could have done more to save his life. Beard died while handcuffed outside his apartment.

Lynchburg area civil rights groups call news of Monday's settlement- a victory for justice.

Even though all the officers were cleared of any criminal wrongdoing, some say the city's payout proves they were at fault.

"They should be punished and if any of them who participated that night are still on the force, they should be summarily dismissed. Lynchburg can do better than that," Lynchburg Civil Rights Leader Garnell Stamps said.

No one from the city would comment about the case.