Former interim police chief William “Jody” Blackwell has struck a deal with the city so he can rejoin the department and in exchange he will drop a $5 million lawsuit against Major Levar Stoney.
Blackwell was the police chief for 11 days during the 2020 summer while the city was rocked with protests demanding racial justice, and Stoney asked Chief William Smith to resign as police clashes with protesters that summer grew ever fiercer.
Almost immediately after Stoney’s announcement that Blackwell was stepping up, criticism erupted over his fatal shooting of a Richmond man in 2002. Blackwell was cleared of any wrongdoing in that death, but because of the controversy, he asked to be relieved.
Blackwell, who reportedly will return as a police major and receive his full pension as part of the agreement, had sued the mayor and the former chief, Gerald Smith, alleging he had been wrongfully terminated seven months after he was the interim chief because he refused an order to have officers stationed around the city’s Confederate monuments as contractors removed them.
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He said following the orders would have left him and his fellow officers subject to criminal liability because a law in place at the time barred authorities from disturbing or interfering with any monuments or memorials. That law has since been revised.
The city had attempted several times to have Blackwell’s lawsuit dismissed. The two sides reached an agreement on Wednesday to settle, just days before the trial was to start.
The joint stipulation of dismissal was filed in Richmond Circuit Court
Late last night, the mayor said, “The city has reached a conclusion and I am happy for both parties to move forward.”
“Major Blackwell has formally withdrawn all of the allegations and publicly made statements relating to the pending claim against Mayor Stoney and former Richmond Police Chief, Gerald Smith,” Blackwell said in a statement released to WRIC-TV.
“In doing so, Major Blackwell would like to express his sincere gratitude to the City of Richmond for allowing him to continue to serve the residents of Richmond. He is excited and grateful to return to the RPD under Chief Edwards’ leadership.”
Blackwell, who claimed he was fired not long before he was set to receive his pension, asked for $5 million and to be reinstated as a police major.
“The parties agree each party will bear its own fees and costs and that neither party will be deemed a prevailing party,” the order reads.