Hampton pays family $500k settlement

HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — The city of Hampton has agreed to pay half a million dollars to the family of a man who died in police custody five years ago.

In 2009, police responded to the home of Hatchel P. “Trey” Adams, III on Overlook Drive after receiving a call that he was acting violent. Police say they tried to calm Adams down, but he threatened them with a Samurai sword, and so officers used a taser gun on him.

When they tried to get him into custody, the officers realized Adams wasn’t breathing. They performed CPR, but Adams died.

Later, investigators learned Adams was mentally ill.

The medical examiner’s report found methamphetamine in his system. Verbena Askew, the lawyer representing Adam’s family, told WAVY.com a report from an independent lab contradicted that report, stating he was not high on methamphetamine.

Askew also claims Adams did not threaten police with a sword, but rather was defending himself. She said he questioned why officers were in his house.

The Hampton Police Division Office of Professional Standards and the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney each conducted independent reviews of the incident and concluded the officers followed proper procedure.

The $500,000 settlement means Adams’ family cannot take further legal action against the city.

“As the Virginia General Assembly has recently recognized, mental illness is a critical issue which challenges localities and law enforcement agencies throughout the Commonwealth,” read part of the city’s settlement statement. “As a result, the City will continue to improve and enhance training and policy in dealing with mentally ill individuals and their families.”

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