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The Oakland city attorney’s office beat back a $3 million wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of a homicide witness who was murdered in 2002. On Tuesday a seven-person federal jury found that an Oakland homicide detective should not be blamed for the death of Chance Grundy, a 21-year-old who saw Michael Scott gun down another man in a West Oakland neighborhood known as Ghost Town in October 2001. Grundy’s family alleged that the police failed to protect him. The family also blamed Scott’s former attorney, Gary Sherrer, who they say erroneously gave his client court papers that identified Grundy as a witness. A man who was charged with Grundy’s death, William Edwards, awaits trial. Scott was sentenced to 59 years in prison for the underlying homicide case and for four counts of attempting to dissuade witnesses. Ultimately, U.S. District Judge William Alsup dismissed Sherrer from the lawsuit, ruling that there wasn’t a clear link between Sherrer’s alleged disclosure and Grundy’s death. Alsup also dismissed other defendants, including the city of Oakland. On Sept. 20 the case went to trial against the sole remaining defendant, Lt. Louis Cruz, a veteran homicide detective. After a two-week trial, the panel found in favor of the city. Several witnesses testified that Grundy was warned to stay away from Ghost Town and that Grundy declined witness protection, said Rachel Wagner, a supervising trial attorney with the city attorney’s office. “It was a case of a young man who would not listen, not a young man who was not offered help,” she said. The attorney for Grundy’s family, Pamela Price, said the family is “devastated” and has not decided whether to appeal. “They are really traumatized by this whole process,” she said. The case is Grundy v. City of Oakland, 03-04283.

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