BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CN) — Nearly three years ago, a former bodybuilder got caught in a hail of police fire as he tried to rescue a friend pursued by a knife-wielding ex-boyfriend. Nine shots hit the friend’s former flame, but a stray struck the neck of the late heroic athlete Rafael Laureano.
Laureano’s family announced Thursday having ironed out a $1.6 million settlement to resolve a lawsuit over the tragic accident.
Abe George, their civil rights attorney, said the family had been eager to put the lawsuit behind them upon learning the incident was unintentional.
“I am sure Mr. Laureano would be happy to know that through his sacrifice his children will be able to use the settlement money to enrich their lives and follow their dreams,” George said in a statement.
Laureano, a 51-year-old father of four, had answered the police’s call for help opening his friend friend Katarzyna Russo’s apartment door.
Russo had locked herself and her two children in the bathroom to escape an ex-boyfriend Francisco Carvajal, who stabbed the door to break through it.
After Laureano busted through the main door, Russo rushed toward them, and police opened fire with a hail of 18 bullets.
Quoting anonymous police sources, initial media reports pinned Laureano’s killing on Carvajal, but the Office of the Medical Examiner ultimately found an NYPD bullet to blame.
In 2015, one of Laureano’s sons sued the city, the NYPD, a detective, three sergeants and an officer in connection for nine civil rights violations, including negligence, assault and wrongful death.
New York City Law Department spokesman Nick Paolucci called Laureano’s story “sad and unfortunate.”
“Resolution of this case was in the best interest of all parties,” Paolucci added in an email.
The family’s lawsuit charged that the NYPD broke protocol in enlisting Laureano to heroically muscle through the door, rather use a battering ram or calling the Emergency Services Unit.