September 14, 2017 10:58:25 AM
Former Columbus police officer Canyon Boykin has settled his wrongful termination suit against the city for an undisclosed amount of money.
Judge Sharion Aycock filed an order dismissing the case Wednesday in the U.S. District Court of Northern Mississippi in Aberdeen.
The city council fired Boykin shortly after the Oct. 16, 2015, incident when he shot and killed Ricky Ball following a traffic stop in north Columbus. Ball, a passenger in the vehicle stopped, had fled from the scene. Police later found a 9 mm handgun near Ball's body.
Councilmen said Boykin violated city policy because he failed to activate his body camera before or during the incident and made inappropriate social media posts in its aftermath. Also, Boykin's then-girlfriend was an unauthorized passenger in the patrol car the night of the shooting.
The former officer then sued for wrongful termination, claiming he shot Ball in self defense.
Boykin has been charged in criminal court with manslaughter and is scheduled to face trial in Walthall County next month.
Jackson-based attorney Jeff Reynolds, who is representing Boykin, said the agreement in the wrongful termination case was finalized Wednesday.
City Attorney Jeff Turnage said the settlement will be paid through Columbus' employer's practices policy with its insurance company, Travelers Insurance.
Turnage said the city had entered a motion for summary judgment, which requested the judge rule on the case, rather than a jury.
Boykin's case was set to go to trial on Sept. 25. Turnage said a final pre-trial conference was set for Sept. 8, until Aycock abruptly canceled it the day before.
"On the one hand, we thought it was possible the district judge was going to grant our motion for summary judgment," Turnage said. "On the other hand, we were afraid the district judge might grant a continuance. The insurance company thought a continuance would be bad for the status of the case. They thought with the criminal case pending, the civil case had less value."
Turnage also said the continuance may have sparked concern on Boykin's side that Aycock might have moved to grant the summary judgment motion, so the sides began to talk.
"When everyone gets nervous about how their case might turn out, they usually come to the table and negotiate," he said.
Boykin is also a defendant in a wrongful death suit in federal court filed by the Ball estate.
"I think he's generally pleased to have closed one of the chapters in this ordeal that he's been going through," Reynolds said.
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