Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Rogue Cop Case Settled for $375,000; Jacksonville to Pay Estate of Man Slain in Police Vehicle in 1998 Robbery

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Rogue Cop Case Settled for $375,000; Jacksonville to Pay Estate of Man Slain in Police Vehicle in 1998 Robbery

Article excerpt

Byline: Jim Schoettler, The Times-Union

Sami Safar's slaying in the back of Jacksonville cop Karl Waldon's police car will cost the city $375,000.

City Deputy General Counsel Howard Maltz said Friday the city and attorneys for Safar's estate settled their part of a wrongful death lawsuit after a few weeks of talks. The settlement came 11 days before a federal civil trial was set to begin. SouthTrust Bank, Waldon and another officer are still defendants.

The city decided to settle, Maltz said, rather than risk a jury ruling in favor of Safar's wife and young son and the award of a much larger settlement.

"The facts were egregious enough that we had concerns of an adverse verdict," Maltz said.

Estate attorney Jeffery Morris declined to comment. The estate's attorneys faced their own difficulties in the case, including proving there was a "code of silence" in the Sheriff's Office that contributed to Safar's death.

The settlement was one of the biggest in recent memory involving the Sheriff's Office. Others include a $775,000 settlement to teen Brenton Butler for being wrongly accused and jailed in a murder and a $400,000 settlement for a man who died while being restrained in jail.

Safar died in July 1998 after withdrawing $51,000 from a Northside SouthTrust Bank and being robbed in the back of Waldon's police car during a traffic stop. Officer Aric Sinclair worked off-duty security at the bank and gave Waldon information about Safar's banking habits.

Waldon is serving four life sentences. Sinclair received a 17-year prison sentence.

"It's very unfortunate that someone in his [Safar's] situation doing nothing wrong came across a police officer who was acting as a criminal," Maltz said. "It brings a close to a sad chapter in city history that unfortunately and unfairly cast a black eye on the hundreds of men and women in law enforcement who faithfully serve our community every day. …

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