MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCSC) - The Town of Mount Pleasant is paying a family $3 million after court documents say a man died following an encounter with Mount Pleasant police.
The incident, which happened last September, is part of a wrongful death settlement.
Court documents state James C. Britt, Jr. died on Oct. 8, 2019 following an incident on or around Sept. 30 with police.
The Charleston County Coroner says Britt’s manner of death was determined to be a homicide and the cause of death includes “restraint asphyxia and the toxic effects of Ketamine.” The coroner says other significant findings for his cause of death include “obesity, toxic effects of ethanol, hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.”
The attorney for the family, Mullins McLeod, released the following statement:
“The significant settlement marks the first step towards complete justice for Mr. Britt’s untimely death.”
McLeod says they were able to reach this settlement without a lawsuit. He says Charleston County personnel administered the Ketamine and a case against them has not yet been filed. McLeod says if they don’t reach a settlement with the county they plan to file a lawsuit.
Ketamine began as an anesthesia medicine and can help ease pain in lower doses, according to WebMd.com.
The website states if misused, ketamine can change your sense of sight and sound, you can have hallucinations and feel out of touch with your surroundings. CNN reports it’s also a drug that has been used illegally as a club drug.
Charleston County officials say ketamine is a DHEC-approved sedative medication used as indicated for severe pain, for patients needing sedation to assist with airway adjuncts and with patients experiencing severe behavioral emergencies.
Health officials investigated the use of ketamine in connection to the 2019 death of Elijah McClain in police custody in Colorado.
The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating the case. They say Britt’s case remains open and they are reviewing everything before providing a report to prosecutors.
Court documents say “claims have been made for the defendant’s conscious pain and suffering and wrongful death against the Town of Mount Pleasant, The Town of Mount Pleasant Police Department, any Town of Mount Pleasant Police officer/employee and the South Carolina Municipal Insurance and Risk Financing Fund.”
Live 5 News requested the incident reports from the police department on this encounter. They have not yet released the reports.
The Mount Pleasant Police Department says Live 5′s request for comment has been forwarded to their legal team.
The Town of Mount Pleasant says they do not have comment on the settlement. Town officials say the case is being handled by their insurance carrier and the council does not approve the settlement.