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City Settles Zongo Lawsuit For $3 Million

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TWC News: City Settles Zongo Lawsuit For $3 Million
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The city has settled a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Ousmane Zongo, who was shot to death by an undercover policeman in a Chelsea warehouse in 2003.

Zongo was working in the warehouse when he was shot and killed in a police raid on a suspected counterfeiting ring operating out of the building. Zongo was not a suspect in the raid.

The city agreed to pay Zongo's widow $3 million Thursday. Her attorney issued a statement saying justice is done.

The undercover officer who shot Ousmane did not receive jail time in connection with the incident.

Bryan Conroy said Zongo reached for his gun and claimed the shooting was self defense. In a non-jury trial last year, Conroy was convicted of criminally negligent homicide and given five years' probation.

NY1’s Amanda Farinacci filed this report.

It's been more than three years since Ousmane Zongo was fatally shot by an undercover cop in a Chelsea warehouse. It was a shooting that not only raised questions about Police Officer Brian Conroy's conduct, but about police training and supervision.

Now the city has agreed to pay $3 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit brought by Zongo's family.

Lawyer Sanford Rubenstein spoke with Zongo's widow, now living in Burkina Faso, for her reaction.

“The widow considered this settlement as an apology from the City of New York for what happened to her husband,” said the attorney. “She feels this settlement, combined with the conviction of Police Officer Brian Conroy of criminally negligent homicide, clears the good name of her late husband.”

Conroy was working undercover in a Chelsea storage facility. He was guarding a stash of confiscated bootleg DVD’s, when he said Zongo left a storage unit. Conroy pulled his gun and ordered Zongo to stop.

While Conroy's attorneys claimed Zongo went for the cop's gun, the prosecution said Conroy was reckless and aggressive. Zongo, an African art restorer, was unarmed. He was shot four times, twice in the back.

In a non-jury trial last year, Conroy was convicted of criminally negligent homicide and given five years' probation.

“In this case, there was a prosecution of the officer, a conviction of the officer, and the civil case just brings some resolution to his family and most importantly to his children,” said attorney Mike Harding.

More than the money, Zongo's lawyers say his family is happy about clearing his name, and hopes the NYPD has responded to the criticism made by the judge in Conroy's trial, who said the department needed to improve training and better coordinate leadership during undercover raids.

The police officers union, which defended Conroy's actions, wouldn't comment on the settlement. But the city issued a statement saying: "The city shares its sympathy with the Zongo family, and we hope this settlement helps bring closure to his family in this very tragic case."

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