Former Sailor Shot by Police Settles for $1.5 Million in Lawsuit

In this May 3, 2004 file photo, security personnel wait to inspect vehicles entering Norfolk Naval Station in Norfolk, Va. (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot, Mort Fryman)
In this May 3, 2004 file photo, security personnel wait to inspect vehicles entering Norfolk Naval Station in Norfolk, Va. (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot, Mort Fryman)

NORFOLK — A 26-year-old former sailor who was shot by Norfolk police in 2014 after driving drunk has agreed to drop her lawsuit against the city in exchange for $1.5 million.

Jasmine N. Glespie will scuttle her $10.35 million suit against the Norfolk Police Department because the city is paying her roughly 14 percent of that amount. City Council members approved the settlement Tuesday, and Glespie agreed to it the next day.

"I'm extremely happy that it's over," Glespie said, noting that it's been nearly two years since an officer shot her in the abdomen. "I feel like the truth is out."

Glespie's lawyer, Sonny Stallings, said his client wanted to get on with her life. Stallings and Mayor Kenny Alexander said national tension over police shooting people and vice versa pushed them to the negotiating table.

"In this environment, police-involved shootings, people will go 'pro-police' or, 'Policemen are aggressive,' " Alexander said. "So people bring biases. This could go either way."

Alexander said the city's lawyers thought they could have fought the case because Glespie was drunk, hit someone with a vehicle and kept driving after an officer told her to stop. But, the mayor added, it would have been risky to take the case to jurors, who could have awarded Glespie what she asked for.

Or they could have given her nothing, perhaps influenced by recent ambushes by gunmen who killed officers, Stallings said.

"It's a very volatile situation," he said. "That weighed heavily on our decision."

City Attorney Bernard Pishko said in an email that officials didn't admit wrongdoing as part of the agreement with Glespie.

City officials handled the Glespie settlement much differently than they have in similar situations. Alexander, unlike predecessor Paul Fraim, talked to the media about the settlement and why he opted for the payout. Alexander said it was part of his promise to voters to be transparent.

Glespie, who lives in Dallas now, sued the police in January 2015, five months after Officer Michael Hudson shot her, the bullet tearing through her bladder.

Hudson had gone to the Breezy Point Apartments just outside Norfolk Naval Station on Aug. 3, 2014, to check out a report of a disturbance . When he got there, Glespie was trying to leave and hit a woman with her vehicle, police said.

Hudson fired after Glespie refused orders to stop, police said.

Glespie was charged with multiple felonies: malicious wounding, attempted malicious wounding and assault on a law enforcement officer. She pleaded guilty that November to assault and battery and driving under the influence, both misdemeanors. Circuit Judge John Doyle III sentenced her to six months in jail, which amounted to time served with credit for good behavior.

Glespie had a blood alcohol content of 0.17 percent, more than twice the legal limit for driving, prosecutors said when they were trying the case.

In May 2015, Commonwealth's Attorney Greg Underwood announced he wouldn't file charges against Hudson, calling the shooting "appropriate and justified under the circumstances."

In a letter to police Chief Michael Goldsmith, Underwood said Glespie repeatedly moved the vehicle forward and backward while one of her friends was on the ground "near the car."

A maintenance employee told investigators Hudson had no choice other than to fire his weapon, Underwood said in his letter. Glespie's friend credited Hudson with saving her life.

In her lawsuit, Glespie said she was sitting in her car with the door open when Hudson walked up, grabbed her around the "upper torso" and ordered her to stop the car. She claimed that the vehicle was not moving at the time and that Hudson never identified himself as a police officer. The lawsuit said Glespie never fought back or tried to push the officer away.

The vehicle pulled forward about 1 yard, causing the officer to lose his grip on Glespie, she said in the lawsuit. Hudson tried a second time to wrestle Glespie out of her vehicle, only to lose his grip again when the car pulled forward another 1 or 2 yards.

The lawsuit said the officer then pulled his gun and shot Glespie one time in the abdomen, even though the car was stationary and "there were no pedestrians immediately behind her vehicle."

She was hospitalized for nine days before being taken to jail.

Two weeks after Underwood decided not to charge Hudson, the six-year veteran left the department, city records show. Hudson was not disciplined because of the shooting, Pishko said in an email Thursday.

At the time of the encounter, Glespie was a seaman recruit with the Navy, assigned to the carrier Theodore Roosevelt. She left the Navy in January after less than 17 months in uniform.

Glespie said she had planned to work in law enforcement or security before she was shot but can't now because of her injury. She's rehabbed to the point where she can walk but still has a limp. She can't run. She has nerve damage, which causes a burning, throbbing pain that stretches from her upper left leg near her groin, down to her shin. The pain gets worse in hot weather.

Glespie plans to go back to school and may pursue a career in business or cooking.

She has nightmares about getting shot, she said, and is uncomfortable when she sees police officers.

"I'm still a little jumpy and easily startled whenever I see them," Glespie said. "I don't look them directly in the eyes."

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