Settlement near in wrongful-death suit filed by dancer's family - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Settlement near in wrongful-death lawsuit filed by family of dancer

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - While a settlement has not been finalized, a court hearing Wednesday could do just that in a wrongful-death lawsuit against the Unified Port of San Diego filed by the parents of a male dancer who was fatally shot by two Harbor police officers after he jumped off a chartered cruise ship.

The attorney for the parents of Steven Paul Hirschfield said in an interview Monday with Sign On San Diego that the parties reached a settlement for $2.5 million Friday, but it won't be formalized until Wednesday.

Ronald W. Powell, a spokesman for the Port District, said the two Harbor police officers involved in the July 19, 2008, incident have been cleared of charges by the District Attorney's Office and will be probably be cleared of wrongdoing by the Harbor Police.

Officers went to scene about 11 p.m. to save someone who jumped into San Diego Bay and ended up struggling with the victim, Powell said.

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said last year that Hirschfield had methamphetamine and ketamine in his system when he jumped off the deck of the Hornblower Inspiration about 500 yards from shore. Hirschfield refused to come about a charter yacht sent to rescue him and the Harbor Police officers responded to the man-overboard radio alert.

Police said Hirschfield -- who was hired to dance on the ship for a gay pride weekend party -- fought with one officer and tried to grab his gun and was shot by a second officer.

Powell said the victim wouldn't cooperate with their efforts to subdue him and had them believing he was a threat and subsequently resorted to deadly force.

The officers involved feel terrible about what happened and are upset that some people see them as having animosity toward gays, Powell said.

Hirschfield, 37, was shot when things got out of hand, Powell said.

"They (the officers) felt they had no choice," the spokesman said. "No one wanted this."

The attorney for the Hirschfield family, Brian Claypool, said the victim was not the aggressor, was not armed and was shot in the back.

Hirschfield's family sued the Harbor Police and Officers Clyde Williams and Wayne Schmidt in federal court for $20 million.

The officers were removed from the suit as a condition of the settlement, Claypool said.

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