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By John Diedrich
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

MILWAUKEE, Wis. - The city attorney's office has proposed a $1.6 million settlement of a civil rights lawsuit filed by the family of a man fatally shot by a Milwaukee police officer, according to documents.
The family of Justin Fields, 21, who was shot as he drove away from a Milwaukee police officer five years ago, sued the city and a trial was set for October, but it was put off after settlement talks began.
Both sides were in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge J.P. Stadtmueller on Thursday to say the settlement is moving through city government. It could be voted on later this month.
In an Oct. 24 letter, City Attorney Grant Langley recommended a settlement of all claims, including attorney's fees and costs, for $1.6 million.
In 2003, Fields was shot and killed by Officer Craig Nawotka as Fields was driving away from N. King Drive and W. North Ave. Fields had fled from police after an earlier incident on N. Water St. and crashed his car. Nawotka justified the shooting by saying Fields was trying to run him over and presented a danger to the public.
An inquest jury found Nawotka's actions justified, and he was not charged with any state crime. Nawotka was suspended for 30 days and is still an officer.
In 2005, local federal prosecutors told Fields' family that Nawotka would be criminally charged. After Justice Department officials in Washington reviewed the case, however, the decision was made to not charge him.
This year, Stadtmueller ruled that there is evidence that Milwaukee police practices might have endorsed officers' improper use of deadly force. The ruling handed Fields' family a victory by allowing it to bring in evidence of other police shootings during a trial.
Claims that police policies contribute to unjustified deadly shootings rarely are allowed to go to trial anywhere in the country.

Wire Service
 
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