The wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of Reora Askew against the police officer who shot and killed her has been settled more than three years after the fact for a total of $500,000.
In September of 2007, officers received a call that Askew was threatening passengers on a Philadelphia bus with a knife. The officer in question, Thomas Ohm, soon found Askew in the park. Ohm testified that Askew lunged at him with the knife, at which point he fired on her, killing her.
However, the evidence rather blatantly contradicted the officer’s assertions. The gunshots that hit Askew were in the arm and the back, not the front of her torso. This forensic evidence aligns strongly with the claims of Askew’s advocates that she was actually turning and running away from the officer when he fired, rather than trying to attack him. There was some dispute over this because of wounds to her chest, but the shots to the back were the most telling.
The case dragged on for more than three years before finally coming to trial late last week. After the plaintiff presented testimony regarding their argument about Askew being shot in the back, the defense contacted the plaintiff’s attorneys to begin negotiating a settlement.
That said, the settlement unfortunately did not include the officer’s admission of guilt. The disciplinary body for officer Ohm’s department has released its review of the case, claiming that the shooting was warranted and justified, despite the decision to settle. Officer Ohm remains employed by the police department, as he has been for eight years.
The family of Askew has stated that they are unsettled by the officer remaining on duty and not admitting responsibility in the shooting; however, they are willing to take the settlement and see it as some measure of justice for what happened.