The City of Delaware has reached a $6.5 million settlement with the widow of a former Ohio State University lineman who accused police of false arrest and excessive force.
The Associated Press reported Thursday that the lawyers representing the widow of Jim Stillwagon, Effie, announced the settlement of the lawsuit in U.S. District Court.
In 2012, Stillwagon, who passed away in February 2018, was involved in a road-rage incident on U.S. Route 42 with a man named Richard Mattingly. According to court documents, Mattingly ran several vehicles off the road in order to keep up with Stillwagon, who was riding his BMW motorcycle. At one point during the incident, which stretched over a 15-mile span, Mattingly tried to back his truck into Stillwagon.
Eventually, the chase ended in parking lot of Auto Zone on William Street after Mattingly sped his pickup truck at Stillwagon, who was carrying a licensed firearm.
Court documents state Stillwagon fired several shots into the truck’s rear tire and engine, and Stillwagon and Mattingly got into a physical altercation after Mattingly’s truck was disabled.
According to the court documents, “Stillwagon grabbed Mattingly by the shoulder, kicked him in the knee and then hit him in the head with the back of his pistol, at which point the pistol discharged upward into the sky. Stillwagon put his gun down and asked a bystander to call police.”
When the City of Delaware Police Department arrived, Mattingly was transported to Ohio State University Hospital and Stillwagon was taken into custody.
Stillwagon accused police of using excessive force by shoving and cramming him into a police cruiser and by tightening evidence bags around his hands too tightly.
Soon after the incident, Stillwagon was indicted by a Delaware County Grand Jury and charged with felonious assault for shooting Mattingly in the head. The case went to trial in October 2013, but the charges were thrown out by the trial judge because no evidence could support a conviction, according to court documents.
After he was acquitted, Stillwagon filed a lawsuit alleging that a Delaware Police Department detective altered facts and suppressed evidence. Stillwagon’s wife continued the lawsuit after his death.
The Fifth District Court and federal courts upheld much of the lawsuit, which was settled Thursday.
Lee Yoakum, community affairs coordinator for the City of Delaware, issued the following statement after the $6.5 million settlement was reached:
“The City of Delaware’s insurance company will pay the settlement amount, not the City of Delaware. This case was covered by the City of Delaware’s insurance policy, and the City was represented by attorneys assigned by the insurance company. While the City did not admit to any wrongdoing by its Police Department, based on the costs of litigation, the risk of exposure, and the advice of our attorneys, settlement was determined to be the best course of action.”
The statement adds the city has no further comments on the matter.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.