After ‘KKK’ Deputies Sued For Excessive Force, $6 Million Settlement Was Reached

RALEIGH, N.C. — An attorney for a North Carolina sheriff’s office said Thursday that the agency has agreed to a $6 million settlement in a lawsuit in which six families accused the department of a history of employing excessive force by officers who reportedly referred to themselves as the “‘KKK’ Deputies”

According to WRAL, Raleigh-based attorney Robert Zaytoun announced the settlement on behalf of the plaintiffs with the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office. Zaytoun, who previously stated that the department’s insurance will cover the payment, did not return a phone call requesting more information on Thursday.

In November 2016, the families filed a lawsuit against four deputies, Sheriff Wayne Coats, and former Sheriff Larry Rollins. The family of John David Livingston, who was shot and killed by a Harnett County officer in 2015 after refusing to allow a warrantless search of his house, filed the complaint.

During a confrontation on November 15, 2015, former deputy Nicholas Kehagias fatally shot Livingston, 33, on his front porch. According to witnesses, Kehagias stormed inside the house that night after Livingston, a white man, informed him the person authorities were seeking didn’t reside there. According to witnesses, the deputy then pulled Livingston from his chair, slammed him to the ground, used a stun gun and pepper spray on him repeatedly, and even placed a revolver to his head.

In court records, the sheriff’s office said that Livingston was inebriated when he snatched Kehagias’ stun gun, prompting the officer to fear for his life. A grand jury failed to indict the deputy, so he resigned.

In the complaint, Kehagias and two other deputies with surnames beginning with the letter K were accused of forming the “KKK” and training together in a “fight club.”

The lawsuit included 43 claims against the defendants, who disputed there was a pattern of excessive force and claimed that other plaintiffs had provoked officers in similar ways on other occasions.

In a statement, Coats added, “This settlement is not in any way an admission of guilt to any of the deputies’ conduct.” “Despite the fact that I was not the sheriff at the time of the occurrences, I still support the guys involved and feel they acted appropriately.”

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