A spokeswoman for Valdosta City Hall, Ashlyn Johnson, confirmed the settlement offer Friday. In exchange for $350,000 and creation of the citizen review board, it says, Smith would drop all claims in his lawsuit.
Nathaniel Haugabrook, one of Smith's attorneys, said Friday that he was still reviewing the proposal.
“I imagine at this point it will move at lightning speed, in terms of a resolution,” said Haugabrook, adding that Smith ”wants to see all of this behind him."
He said creation of a citizen panel to help oversee the Valdosta Police Department had been Smith's top priority in the lawsuit. In a letter to city officials seeking a settlement before the lawsuit was filed, Smith’s attorneys had also asked for $700,000.
Filed four months after Smith's violent encounter with police, the lawsuit came amid a national outcry over police brutality against people of color, sparked by the May 2020 killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Officers confronted Smith on a clear, sunny day after a drugstore employee called police to report a man who was harassing customers and asking for money outside. Officers found two suspects nearby who fit the description. They learned one of them had an outstanding arrest warrant. The other was Smith.
Attorneys for Lt. Billy Wheeler, the officer seen on camera wrapping Smith in a bear hug and slamming the man to the ground, said in court filings that he mistakenly believed Smith was the wanted man.
Police let Smith go without charges, and he left the scene without waiting for paramedics to arrive.