CLEVELAND -- The city of Cleveland has reached a $1 million settlement with the families of six women who were murdered by serial killer Anthony Sowell in 2009.
The money will be divided equally among the families.
The settlement was broken down in the following statement issued by the law firms of Friedman & Gilbert and Friedman, Domiano & Smith:
These families were met with repeated indifference by the Cleveland Division of Police, whose officers refused in some cases to take missing persons reports from family members, and by the Sex Crimes Unit, where officers failed to follow up on the missing persons reports that were taken, accompanied by the failure to monitor detectives’ work. After months of worrying about missing loved ones, these families were met with the horrific news of the murders.
The deaths of all of these women was preventable, had Det. Hussein properly handled the Sowell case in December 2008. As noted by the Eighth District Court of Appeals, Hussein’s reckless and sloppy police work caused Sowell to be released from jail in December 2008, after he was arrested for a brutal attack on Gladys Wade, who barely escaped from Sowell’s upstairs apartment. Ms. Wade, beaten, bloodied, and shaken, was able to flag down police who then arrested Sowell at his Imperial Avenue home. But Det. Hussein told a City prosecutor that she did not believe Wade’s account over the statement of Sowell, who was a registered sex offender, having only a few years earlier completed a 15-year sentence for a similar rape of a woman. Hussein’s release of Sowell not only led to the murder of these six women, but also led to another brutal attack on Latundra Billups – who barely escaped after jumping from a second-floor window.
The case against Det. Hussein was filed in 2010 but was vigorously challenged in court until 2018, when the Eighth District Court of Appeals, in a ground-breaking ruling, permitted the case to proceed to trial against Hussein. This case paved the way for victims to be able to seek justice against police investigators who violate their duty to protect the public from foreseeable harm. Sowell’s brutal and unspeakable criminal acts could have been avoided if Det. Hussein had followed generally accepted standards of police investigative work.
According to Terry Gilbert, one of the attorneys for the families along with Jeffrey Friedman, Richard Warren, Jr., and Jacqueline Greene: “While the settlement in no way represents the extent of the pain and suffering endured by the families, it provides some measure of satisfaction that the City of Cleveland has acknowledged the pain and suffering these women and their families had to endure, not just from a serial murderer – but by the very system that was supposed to protect them.”
Sowell was sentenced to death in 2011 after being found guilty of killing 11 women.