Sep. 30-AMORY - Monroe County has agreed to pay $690,000 to family members of Ricky Keeton, a man who was shot and killed by sheriff's deputies during a 2015 no-knock raid.
During a court hearing on Wednesday, a federal magistrate confirmed the settlement amount with the attorneys handling the case, according to an audio recording of the hearing provided by the court.
According to discussion during the hearing, the settlement will be paid out of a pool to which Monroe County contributes alongside other local governments.
This settlement comes right before a civil trial that had been scheduled to begin next week in federal court.
Litigation filed by Keeton's daughters has stretched on for years since it was filed in 2016, clearing multiple hurdles along the way, including a legal question that went to a U.S. appeals court, only to see the case returned to a Mississippi district court.
"Given all the immunity questions and technical questions in a case like this, I think this is a good settlement," said Jim Waide, the plaintiff's attorney.
Waide, along with his wife Rachel Waide, represented Robbie Geiger, Delisha Mooney and Megan Archer.
"I just want my dad's life to be justified and his name to be cleared," Geiger told the Daily Journal last year. "Just to have some vindication for him and his life."
The lawsuit centered around the deadly events of Oct. 28, 2015, in which a Monroe County SWAT team rammed the door of Keeton's mobile home, pried it open and then unleashed a barrage of gunfire when they saw Keeton holding a pellet pistol.
Keeton's girlfriend, Wanda Stegall, has said she never heard deputies identify themselves and Keeton thought intruders were at the door. This telling of events would make Keeton's death similar to the 2020 shooting death of Breonna Taylor, which led activists and reformers to demand that no-knock raids be banned or limited.
Deputies say they identified themselves and that Keeton fired the pellet pistol at them.
However, in the days after the shooting, then-Sheriff Cecil Cantrell falsely claimed that Keeton threw open the door and opened fire at deputies, describing Keeton as the aggressor. Sworn deposition by sheriff's deputies contradicted Cantrell's initial version of events.
Waide singled out those remarks by Cantrell for criticism.
"To afterward make those baseless statements was just beyond the pale," said Waide.
Keeton's death also highlights the danger of no-knock raids, which were long heavily used by Monroe County, Waide said.
"The idea that you would break into someone's home for a trivial drug violation when he's known to be a non-violent person, that just doesn't need to happen," said the attorney.
Attorneys representing Monroe County and Eric Sloan, a former sheriff's deputy also named by the suit, did not respond to requests for comment.
Court proceedings have been provisionally closed, but the settlement has not yet been fully formalized.