Family of man killed by Portland police gets $225,000 settlement

·3 min read

Jul. 18—The city of Portland will pay $225,000 to the family of a man who was shot and killed by a city police officer outside a strip mall five years ago.

Attorneys for Lt. Nicholas Goodman and the family of Chance David Baker signed paperwork to dismiss the lawsuit on July 5. Portland officials did not disclose the settlement amount until Monday in response to a formal public records request under the state's Freedom of Access Act.

Shantel and Terry Baker, mother and grandmother to Chance, sued then-Sgt. Nicholas Goodman in 2019 for the "unlawful use of excessive and deadly force" in 2017. Baker, who was 22 at the time of his death, was having a mental health crisis and holding an air rifle he had purchased that morning from a nearby pawn shop. He had a blood alcohol level of at least 0.241.

At the time he was shot by Goodman, Baker was surrounded by several officers who responded to 911 calls about a man walking around the parking lot of Union Station Plaza on St. John Street with what some witnesses said appeared to be a gun.

The Bakers sued Goodman in his "individual capacity" as an employee of the City of Portland. The city covered his settlement, according to the agency's response to a public records request by the Portland Press Herald. The city also paid for Goodman's attorney, John Wall.

Baker first moved to Portland in 2012 from a small Iowa town near the Nebraska border. He had been working three minimum wage jobs at once, but lost his jobs and housing after he began exhibiting increasingly serious signs of mental illness. Police had interacted with Baker several times before his death, including a call to his apartment where police found Baker was growing psychedelic mushrooms. Baker was convinced there were bombs in his home. When police couldn't find any, they took him to a hospital for a mental health evaluation.

Police also interacted with Baker after his family from Iowa filed a missing persons report, and they held Baker at the Cumberland County Jail once when a "wet" shelter for adults intoxicated by alcohol was unable to accept him.

Goodman told investigators he shot Baker because he was afraid for his own safety and that of others in the area, according to records reviewed by the Portland Press Herald in 2018. The Maine Attorney General's Office called the shooting "justified" in a report issued that March.

But in February of this year, U.S. District Judge John Woodcock denied Goodman protection under "qualified immunity," a legal doctrine afforded to law enforcement officers to shield them from civil liability. It was a rare decision that ensured the case some viability if it were to go to trial.

Attorney Hunter Tzovarras represents the Bakers and did not immediately respond to a request for more information about the settlement Monday afternoon. In emails to the Portland Press Herald last week, Tzovarras said his clients had signed a confidentiality agreement with the city and that they are limited in commenting directly on the terms of the settlement.