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Son of Black man fatally shot by California police to receive $1.3 million in lawsuit settlement

Kenneth Ross Jr., 25, was fatally shot by a Gardena police officer in 2018. His death led to the passing of a law that will decertify officers convicted of serious crimes or bias.
Protest Gardena
A Black Lives Matter rally to call for justice in the fatal shooting of Kenneth Ross Jr. on June 20, 2020, in Gardena, Calif.Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The 8-year-old son of a Black man in California who was fatally shot by police in 2018, a death that led to new policing laws, will receive $1.3 million in a lawsuit settlement with the city of Gardena, his lawyers announced.

Kenneth Ross Jr. was 25 when he was shot by police responding to calls about a man firing a weapon in a park on April, 11, 2018, Gardena Police said at the time. 

Kenneth Ross Jr.Courtesy Fouzia Almarou

Gardena Police Officer Michael Robbins said he “feared for his life,” believing Ross was reaching for a gun, and shot him twice. A handgun was recovered from the scene. 

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office concluded in 2019 that Robbins acted in “lawful self-defense.” Robbins retired in 2020.

Attorneys Carl Douglas and Jamon Hicks, who represented Ross’ son, announced the settlement Wednesday.

Hicks told NBC News the Gardena Police Department did not admit any wrongdoing in the case, however, “with a settlement amount of more than $1.3 million, we believe that speaks volumes.”

Last month, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the Kenneth Ross Jr. Police Decertification Act of 2021, also known as SB2. The law decertifies law enforcement officers convicted for misconduct or serious crimes — such as excessive force or demonstration of bias — and prevents them from moving to different police departments. 

The family hailed the law as a major victory in police accountability.

“Today’s vote is proof that when we fight, we win,” Fouzia Almarou, Ross' mother, said in a news release at the time. “No mother should have to live with the kind of pain that I live with every day. This Act gives us the ability to decertify cops who kill and abuse our people."

Hicks said with the settlement and new law, "we are excited about what the future holds, and that Mr. Ross’s legacy will be. One that tragedy was turned into something positive."

"We believe it's a fair settlement," Hicks said. "The settlement, in conjunction with SB2 that passed, we feel that there is going to be more accountability for officers in California and their inability to just move from station to station or even department to department."

“The family is very thankful for all of the people that kept his name active amongst all of the other tragic killings across the nation,” Hicks said. “The family, the mother of his minor son is very happy that people didn’t give up and forget about Kenneth Ross.”

Ross’ mother and father also settled separately with the city for lesser amounts..

The city of Gardena and Gardena Police Department did not immediately reply to NBC News' request for comment.