ATLANTA (AP) — The parents of a Georgia Tech student killed by a campus police officer four years ago have settled a lawsuit against the university for $1 million, their lawyer said Thursday.
University police officer Tyler Beck fatally shot 21-year-old Scott “Scout” Schultz on Sept. 16, 2017, authorities said. An investigation showed officers responded after Schultz called 911 to report an armed suspicious person matching Schultz’s own description.
Schultz's parents, William and Lynne Schultz, filed the wrongful death lawsuit two years ago. It alleged that Beck used excessive force and wasn't sufficiently trained to respond to situations involving people experiencing mental health crises. The settlement was reached about two weeks ago, Schultz attorney L. Chris Stewart said.
Even more than the monetary settlement, the Schultzes are pleased with certain changes the university implemented as a result of the shooting, including changing policy and training for officers and equipping every officer with a stun gun, Stewart said.
“They just want Scout’s life to stand for something and now it truly does stand for change on campus," he said in a phone interview Thursday. "There’s no way we can even predict how many lives may be saved.”
The university also expanded the LGBTQIA Resource Center and received $1 million in contributions for LGBTQIA student mental health and wellness initiatives, Stewart said.
Schultz was an engineering student and the president of the Pride Alliance at Georgia Tech. Schultz identified as nonbinary and intersex and used the pronouns “they” and “them." William Schultz has previously said his child had gone through counseling after attempting suicide two years before the shooting, but there was no indication anything was wrong when he dropped Scout off at school the month before the shooting.
Police said at the time of the shooting that Schultz had a knife and refused to drop it after repeated commands. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said a multi-purpose tool that included a knife was found at the scene, and three suicide notes were discovered in Schultz’s dorm room.
The lawsuit alleged that Schultz was experiencing a mental health crisis and that a reasonably trained law enforcement officer would have recognized that. In fact, the suit noted, some of the responding officers stayed calm and tried to deescalate the situation, but Beck instead used physical force.
“We all continue to celebrate the impact Scout Schultz had on members of the GT community, and mourn their loss,” the university said in a statement Thursday, adding that the recent settlement “gives us a moment to reflect again on ways Georgia Tech can better support all members of the campus community. While we’ve significantly increased campus mental health resources and well-being programs over the last four years, we are reminded today of the importance of continued work in this area.”