'There are no winners:' Walnut Creek settles to pay family $4M after Miles Hall death

Miles Hall

The parents of a man who was shot and killed by Walnut Creek police said Monday that they hope a $4-million settlement will lead to changes that will prevent other mentally ill people from dying at the hands of the police.

"It's important for us to help us so we can help save somebody else from this happening again," said Taun Hall, the mother of Miles Hall. "Miles should never have died."

Her husband, Scott Hall agreed, saying, "All we care about from the day Miles died - and until we die - is having a better system in place."

Civil rights attorney John Burris said Monday that “no amount of money will bring justice for the loss of their beloved son, Miles. However, he said this settlement, agreed to on Friday, will bring closure to this aspect of the legal proceedings."

Burris says this case raised important questions regarding how the police perceive threats leading to their use of force when engaging with people experiencing a mental health crisis, especially if that person is Black or brown.

Much like George Floyd focused the nation on the use of chokeholds and racial disparity in policing, the case of Miles Hall, which happened in June of 2019, brought home the challenges with protecting those with mental impairments when the police are called.

In a statement, Hall's parents, Scott and Taun Hall, wrote: "There are no winners, nor was there ever going to be true justice for Miles as a result of this lawsuit.  However, we will claim victory once we are assured that those in a mental health crisis are not harmed or killed at the hands of the police.:

Hall was killed in an encounter with police June 2, 2019, after his family called police to tell them he was running around the neighborhood behaving erratically.

Police apparently knew Hall suffered from a mental illness. He had a pointed crowbar with him that city officials said was nearly 5-feet long and weighed 13.4 pounds.

Police officers called Hall toward them and then told him to stop, which he did for a moment. Then he changed directions in what his family said was an effort to run past police. Police tried less-lethal beanbag shots, but Hall did not stop, and officers killed him.

"There are lessons to be learned after any use of deadly force, and the City and Police Department are exploring and working to expand non-law enforcement options for responding to someone will mental illness," city spokeswoman Betsy Burkhart said. "The Police Department is also expanding mental health response and crisis intervention training," she said.

This fiscal year, new spending will include $100,000 to help pay for a pilot to increase the presence of mobile crisis response teams in the county, Burkhart added.

City officials said multiple people had called 911 regarding Hall that day. When asked whether police will keep responding to situations like Hall's, Burkhart said police will continue to respond to 911 calls.

She said the city agrees someone other than police should respond to mental health crises, except when someone is violent. The settlement means both parties agree that neither the city nor its employees are admitting liability or fault for Hall's death. 

For more information about the Miles Hall Foundation: http://www.JusticeforMilesHall.org

Bay City News contributed to this report.