The family of former Cottageville mayor Albert “Bert” Reeves was awarded $97.5 million for his shooting death by a police officer three years ago.
The Post and Courier reports the federal court jury reached the decision Wednesday in the wrongful death lawsuit filed by Reeves’ family. Reeves was shot by Cottageville Police officer Randall Price during a May 2011 argument. The family’s attorney Mullins McLeod said the mayor had previously complained about Price arresting one of his construction company’s employees and had raised concerns about the officer’s “aggressive behavior.”
The newspaper noted that Price’s attorney Lake Summers said the ex-mayor suffered from bipolar disorder and was enraged when he confronted the officer, causing Price to fire in self-defense after Reeves began throwing punches. Price was investigated by the State Law Enforcement Division, but was not charged.
Cottageville is a town of roughly 700 residents located near the Edisto River between North Charleston and Walterboro.
The family’s complaint against the town claimed that Price was hired despite being fired from three previous law enforcement jobs. McLeod argued that Cottageville, which gets about 70 percent of its revenue from traffic tickets, had supported Price’s “aggressive” style of policing.
The jury’s award includes $7.5 million actual damages, $60 million in punitive damages against the town and $30 million punitive damages against Price.
“I cannot thank the jury enough for their courage to do justice in this case,” Ashley Reeves Lowe said in a statement released by the family’s attorney. “My children take great comfort in knowing their father’s name has been cleared and that this officer will no longer carry a gun and a badge.”
Cottageville leaders have not yet indicated if they will appeal the decision.