Atlanta will pay $3.75M to family of Nebraska man who died after being handcuffed and held face down

The city of Atlanta will pay $3.75 million to the family of a Nebraska man who died after police handcuffed him face down. Officers arrested Dorado after he brawled with them at a convenience store. (Matthew Pearson/WABE)

 The city of Atlanta will pay $3.75 million to the family of a Nebraska man who died after police handcuffed him face down.

The City Council approved the settlement Monday, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, after the Fulton County medical examiner determined that Ricardo Dorado Jr.’s death on Aug. 21, 2022 was a homicide.

The medical examiner ruled that the death of the Lexington, Nebraska, resident was caused by prone restraint cardiac arrest. Complicating factors included Dorado having methamphetamine in his system, getting hit in the head by officers’ batons during his arrest and heart disease, according to the medical examiner’s report.

“A review of the bodycam footage in this case clearly reflects that the egregious misconduct of several officers employed by the City of Atlanta Police Department caused Ricky’s untimely death,” Gabe Banks, an attorney for Dorado’s family, said in a statement. “Ricky was unarmed, and his death was completely preventable.”

Officers were called to an Atlanta convenience store about a man vandalizing vehicles and gas pumps. After failing to subdue Dorado with electrical stun guns and pepper spray, an incident report says Dorado used a T-shirt to close the doors of the convenience store and then locked himself inside a bathroom. Dorado came out “swinging and kicking” when officers opened the door, the report said.

The medical examiner said Dorado had “a history of schizophrenia and methamphetamine use” and was “reportedly exhibiting an altered mental status” during the brawl.

Police say Dorado then threw bottles of wine at officers, who hit him with their batons. Dorado was finally handcuffed outside the door and held face down on the pavement. Attorneys say Dorado was held face-down for 15 minutes, that one officer placed a knee on Dorado’s arm, and that another placed a knee into Dorado’s back while officers held his feet up in a “hogtied” position.

The newspaper reports attorneys had notified the city of their intent to sue earlier this year, demanding $17.5 million in damages. The city agreed to settle the case before a lawsuit was filed.

Officers turned Dorado over and began administering first aid after he became unresponsive. He died hours later at a hospital. Both the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Atlanta police investigated.

The three officers involved remain on administrative duty.

In August, the GBI submitted its findings to prosecutors, who allowed the Dorado family’s attorneys to view the unreleased police body camera footage for the first time.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis hasn’t announced whether she will seek criminal charges against the officers.

The city of Atlanta has paid more than $8 million this year to settle claims against the police department.