An Unsettling Settlement for the Family of Ashley MacDonald

Forty million dollars. That's how much the parents of Ashley MacDonald were asking for in a wrongful-death lawsuit against the City of Huntington Beach. In 2006, a distraught MacDonald stood in a park near her Huntington Beach home, brandishing a knife. Two Huntington Beach police officers say MacDonald lunged at them -- and, instead of using pepper spray, batons or any number of other non-lethal ways of subduing the 5-foot-4, 120-pound MacDonald, the cops killed her with 15 bullets.

One-hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars. That's how much the parents of Ashley MacDonald have settled for, Huntington Beach officials said on Friday.

"The settlement isn't reflective of the loss, but sometimes litigation can be so debilitating that people would rather settle so they can keep their sanity," Jerry Steering, the lawyer for the family, told the Register.

No one can blame the parents for wanting to move on and end the suffering brought on by a costly, drawn-out lawsuit against the city. But it's hard not to be disappointed when, once again, Huntington Beach police resort to lethal force under dubious circumstances and receive only a minimal penalty.

Witnesses contradicted the cops' version of what happened in the park, and a similar incident in Newport Beach in 2007 showed how police should deal with a single, emotionally unstable person holding a knife: using care, diligence and the threat of Tasers. The Weekly's Nick Schou has written up the HBPD's long history of idiocy and brutality.

One hopes that $125,000 is enough to stop something like this from ever happening again. But judging by recent happenings in neighboring cities, it doesn't look like that will be the case.


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