EAGLE POINT, Ore. — The City of Eagle Point has agreed to pay the family of Matthew Graves $4.5 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit, according to a statement from the family's attorneys. Graves was shot and killed by an Eagle Point Police officer during an altercation inside of Carl's Jr. in September of 2018.
"The parties have settled this case for $4.5 million, ending the year-long litigation over the September 19, 2018, death of Matthew Graves, who was shot and killed by Officer Daniel Cardenas after an alleged jaywalking incident," Graves family attorneys Kelly Andersen and David Linthorst said in a statement. "Graves was unarmed."
According to the attorneys, City County Insurance (CIS) will pay the settlement. CIS insures the City of Eagle Point, the Police Department, and Officer Cardenas.
A grand jury cleared Cardenas and another Eagle Point Police officer of any criminal wrongdoing after deliberations in October of 2018. The District Attorney's Office also released body camera footage of the incident leading up to Graves' death.
"Matthew Graves' parents filed the lawsuit to get answers about what happened that night," Andersen and Linthorst wrote. "They wanted to shine light on the actions of Officer Cardenas and on the policies of the Eagle Point Police Department."
The attorneys said that the Graves family hopes the case will help police officers become better trained for interactions with the mentally ill, including de-escalation techniques — potentially preventing "another tragedy like Matthew's death."
During the grand jury proceedings, the two officers involved claimed that they thought Matthew had gotten hold of a gun when he grabbed a fallen Taser — a black object with a grip that looked similar to a handgun. A number of other local law enforcement agencies use Tasers marked with yellow to make them easily visible and distinguishable from a gun.
"[The Graves'] hope that Taser manufacturers and law enforcement agencies world-wide will recognize the deadly consequences of using Tasers that are easily confused with handguns," Andersen and Linthorst wrote.
The attorneys said that the Graves' plan to use much of the money gained in the settlement to make donations for local organizations that help the homeless and those with mental illnesses in Matthew's honor.
"The Graves family emphasize that they support law enforcement officers in the heroic and often dangerous work they do," the lawyers wrote. "They believe Cardenas' conduct on the night of September 19 . . . was a terrible and tragic departure from the methods and manners the vast majority of police officers would have used in the same situation."
"The Graves family wants to thank the communities of Eagle Point and Southern Oregon for their support and compassion following this tragedy. As they believe now is the time for healing, neither they nor their legal team intend to grant any interviews," Andersen and Linthorst concluded.
NewsWatch 12 reached out to the City of Eagle Point for comment on the settlement and will update this article with any further information that comes forward.
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