Harford County leaders are paying a $1 million settlement to avoid a lawsuit in a 2022 deadly shooting involving a deputy.

While the county executive said the settlement was the right thing to do, the sheriff believes it was premature.

The confrontation that led to the shooting death of John Fauver happened in April of 2022. Harford County Sheriff’s Office deputies got a call saying Fauver was threatening to harm himself.

Deputies opened fire after thinking Fauver was reaching for a gun. Instead, he was reaching for a cane.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Two years later, Harford County received a letter from Fauver’s family’s lawyer demanding $1 million or stating they would file a lawsuit.

“This was the smart thing to do, the right thing to do for everybody,” Harford County Executive Bob Cassilly said.

Cassilly said he consulted the county’s insurance company, who told him the best thing to do was pay the demand.

“Even if we would have been successful in court, the legal fees we would have incurred as a county would have been far greater than the amount we paid in settlement,” Cassilly said. “There was no way we could win this financially.”

But not all county leaders agreed with the decision. Only four of the seven County Council members voted in favor of settling.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

“This is about the taxpayers in this county should be treated fairly,” Harford County Sheriff Jeff Gahler said. “This is about backing the men and women of law enforcement.”

Gahler believes the county should have held off on paying because key facts about the case were left out of the settlement, including that Fauver had firearms with him the day of the shooting, though they were in the trunk of his vehicle.

“Terrible things happen,” Gahler said. “People don’t like getting locked up. Lawsuits are a part of the business, and they need good legal representation. There was no lawsuit filed here. We don’t know what the allegations were.”

Cassilly stands by the decision to settle.

“There’s no admission of liability by anyone,” Cassilly said. “And, so, we’re now done with this litigation. The people involved are done with this litigation. The risk has been resolved and the taxpayers are protected. That was our that was our objective.”

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

About $650,000 of that $1 million settlement will be paid by the county’s insurance. The remaining $350,000 will be covered by the county.

WJZ is a media partner of The Baltimore Banner.

More From The Banner