The family of a Brooklyn man who was fatally shot by his landlord in 2005—in the midst of an argument over unsettled rent—has won a $500,000 wrongful death settlement from the City. The shooter, an off-duty Internal Affairs Bureau lieutenant, was found not-guilty of homicide in 2007. He was also cleared of all disciplinary charges by the Internal Affairs Bureau.
Lieutenant Shamik Walton, a 19-year veteran of the 67th Precinct, was arrested and charged with second-degree manslaughter for the fatal shooting of 27-year-old Byron Hearst, a tenant in Walton's Bed-Stuy apartment building at 645 Macon Street, on May 8, 2005.
Walton, who was put on modified duty after the shooting, was released on $30,000 bail leading up to his 2007 trial. According to the NY Times, a trial witness testified that he saw Walton and Hearst arguing in the stairwell before Walton drew his gun. Walton was in the building attempting to collect rent from Hearst. He proceeded to shoot Hearst three times—once in the chest and twice in the side.
Prosecutors argued that Walton didn't identify himself as an officer, and was reckless. Walton claimed that Hearst tried to grab his gun from him, and that he shot in self-defense. The jury ultimately decided that the shooting had been justified.
"This reckless shooting of Byron Hearst is another example of a death of an unarmed individual which could have been avoided had the lieutenant involved undergone proper training on the use and discharge of his weapon,” said Scott Rynecki, the attorney representing Hearst's wife Sheron.
According to the Post, the Hearst family initially filed a civil suit against Walton and the City for $25 million.