STRONGSVILLE, Ohio — The city of Strongsville has agreed to pay $1 million to the estate of an unarmed man fatally shot by a police officer after a vehicle chase in March 2017, an attorney for the estate confirmed Thursday.
The federal lawsuit was filed in January 2018 on behalf of the estate of Roy Evans Jr. The lawsuit claimed Strongsville police officer Jason Miller ignored a supervisor’s order, rushed toward the 37-year-old Evans’ van with his gun drawn and fatally shot Evans within a second of Miller’s opening the driver’s side door.
Miller told investigators from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation that he feared for his life. A grand jury in Medina County later cleared Miller of wrongdoing. Miller told investigators it was his fourth on-duty shooting.
The lawsuit claimed that Miller endangered Evans’ girlfriend and her three children, who were in the van that night.
Strongsville Police Chief Mark Fender said that he was glad that Strongsville agreed to settle.
The shooting occurred after a chase that began with a Strongsville officer attempting to pull over Evans’ van for not having its headlights on. State Highway Patrol troopers joined the pursuit with speeds reaching 100 mph. Despite the use of spike sticks to flatten the van’s tires in the southbound lanes of Interstate 71, Evans continued driving. The chase ended about 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of Cleveland with officers surrounding the van with their cruisers.
Despite a supervisor’s orders that officers take cover, Miller and another officer rushed toward the van, the lawsuit said.
Miller told investigators he was afraid Evans was going to “back up and pin” him. Dashcam video showed Miller standing to the side of the van and not in its path. Miller told investigators he shot Evans when he saw Evans’ right hand drop out of view.
“I thought for sure he was going for a gun,” Miller said. “The thought process was so fast to try and get to the draw before he did.”
No guns were found in the van. Officers later learned that Evans was reaching toward rolls of carpet stuffed between the driver’s and passenger’s seat.
Miller shot Evans again about 2 seconds after the first shots, a BCI report said. Miller told investigators he fired again when he saw Evans’ hand dropped further out of sight.
Evans’ girlfriend told investigators she begged Evans to stop, but he refused because he was on parole and didn’t have a driver’s license. She said Evans was returning from a carpet job the night he was killed.
The girlfriend and her children weren’t injured.