‘It’s always been about change’: Settlement negotiation in process for Smith vs. VPD, citizen review board to come

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Published: Jun. 14, 2021 at 6:53 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 14, 2021 at 6:56 PM EDT
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VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) -Antonio Smith’s attorney, Nathaniel Haugabrook tells us they had been working on a resolution with the city, so they knew a settlement offer was going to be proposed.

“In terms of a resolution to the case, whatever that final number is going to be, it’s not going to be disclosed for confidentiality reasons. So my reaction to it was, the city appears to be doing the right thing,” said Haugabrook.

Haugabrook says rough arrests between citizens and law enforcement happen too often and that this lawsuit is about reform, not money.

“I’ve always said from day one, it’s never been about money for the Smith family or Mr. Smith in particular but it’s always been about change,” said Haugabrook.

Another part of the settlement negotiation will implement a citizen review board in Valdosta.

The board will consist of five to eight community members who will review complaints from the public about their encounters with law enforcement.

Haugabrook says Valdosta would lead the way as only the second city in the region with this resource.

“It’s just happening too often. It comes to a point, it’s almost numbing when we hear it about but it continues to plague mainly people of color,” said Haugabrook.

Haugabrook says this experience has been an ordeal for his client Antonio Smith, but that he’s focused on a new beginning.

“Mr. Smith is doing well, he is enjoying his family, and just wants to get all of this put behind him,” Haugabrook.

The city did not have any further comments on the settlement at this time.

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