A Michigan county has agreed to pay $1.07 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the family of a woman who was killed and dismembered after a Detroit-area police officer exposed her as an informant in a drug bust.
Details of the deal between Oakland County and Shelly Hilliard’s family were released Tuesday in response to a public records request by The Associated Press.
The county said an insurance company is paying the settlement. One-third of it, or $355,000, will go to attorneys at the Goodman & Hurwitz firm.
Hilliard, 19, quickly agreed to help police when she was caught with marijuana at a suburban Detroit motel in 2011. Her supplier was arrested within hours, but she was killed a few days later — her body burned and dismembered.
During the arrest, Officer Chad Wolowiec, a member of a regional drug unit, gave enough details to the drug dealer’s companion to reveal that Hilliard had provided critical information.
Attorneys asked him why during a deposition in the lawsuit. “I don’t know,” Wolowiec replied.
The county was facing a trial or settlement after a federal appeals court last January refused to dismiss the case, saying a jury could find that Wolowiec’s “blatant exposure” amounted to “deliberate indifference” for Hilliard’s safety.
In earlier court filings, Oakland County had argued that Hilliard was warned to stay away from Qasim “Red” Raqib. He was convicted of second-degree murder in her death and sentenced to at least 25 years in prison.
Madison Heights, which had employed Wolowiec as an officer at the time, agreed to pay $20,000 to settle its part of the lawsuit, attorney Kathryn Bruner James said. Wolowiec now is an officer in Warren.
Hilliard was known to her family as “Treasure.” In 2015, a documentary about her life and death as a transgender woman was presented at the Los Angeles Film Festival.
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