Parents Of Celtics Fan Settle With Boston For $3M

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The parents of a Celtics fan who stopped breathing and later died after police took him into custody during NBA championship street celebrations two years ago have reached a $3 million settlement with the city.

David Woodman, a 22-year-old college student, died at the hospital 11 days after police arrested him on a public drinking charge.

Jeff and Cathy Woodman, of Southwick, wanted to resolve the civil claim before the June 18 anniversary of their son's arrest, attorney Howard Friedman said Thursday.

"This is not a satisfactory resolution; rather, it reflects our choice not to allow anger to affect our family any further," the family said in a statement.

The settlement was announced the same day the Celtics were playing the Los Angeles Lakers in the deciding Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals.

"This is a very emotional time for the family," Friedman said.

The settlement is not an admission of liability, city lawyer William Sinnott said, but a fair resolution that avoids protracted legal maneuverings. He said it was in the best interests of all parties.

The money will be used to establish a foundation in David Woodman's name that will help the poor and downtrodden.

"He cared deeply about people who are poor, homeless or looked down on by society," his parents said.

"The foundation started in his name will continue David's work by providing empathy, compassion and support to people who are often ignored in this world."


Woodman's parents blamed their son's death on police. Witnesses reported that the Emmanuel College student was slammed to the ground, and his parents said the rough treatment caused cardiac arrhythmia and brain damage.

An independent investigation led by former U.S. Attorney Donald Stern found that officers acted reasonably. The inquiry concluded the death was not caused by police, but by a pre-existing heart condition that police had no way of knowing about.

Woodman was arrested after police saw him walking with a beer-filled plastic cup shortly after the Celtics clinched the 2008 championship with a 131-92 victory over the Lakers.

He refused to stop when asked, so police approached him and grabbed his arm, according to law enforcement accounts.

Stern's investigation found officers placed Woodman on the ground, on his side to comply with police guidelines on handling intoxicated people who are under arrest. Investigators were unable to determine precisely how much time passed between the time officers put Woodman on the ground and the time they realized he wasn't breathing, but Stern said he believed it was no more than five minutes.

Officers called for an ambulance and immediately began performing CPR on Woodman as soon as they realized he had stopped breathing, authorities said.

Stern found there were some things police could have done better. He said there was inadequate police supervision at the arrest scene, and it was unclear which officers were responsible for watching Woodman when he showed signs of distress.

The settlement with the Woodmans is the second time in five years the city has settled a claim made by the family of a college student killed during sports celebrations.

In 2005, Boston paid $5.1 million to the family of Emerson College student Victoria Snelgrove. Snelgrove, 21, was celebrating the Boston Red Sox American League Championship Series victory over the New York Yankees in October 2004 when she was struck in the eye by a pepper pellet fired by Boston police.

An independent commission headed by Stern concluded Snelgrove's death was an avoidable tragedy caused by poor police planning and "serious errors in judgment." Several officers were suspended, demoted or reprimanded.

This program aired on June 17, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.