- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 12, 2012

The father of a 14-year old boy fatally shot by an off-duty Metropolitan Police Department officer in 2007 might have thought his legal battle was over when the District of Columbia settled rather than fight a multimillion-dollar wrongful death lawsuit last fall.

But a bankruptcy trustee recently filed court papers “commanding turnover of all proceeds of the settlement” to Charles Rawlings Sr. in connection with a lawsuit involving the shooting death of teenager DeOnte Rawlings.

While D.C. and federal authorities cleared the off-duty officer who shot Mr. Rawlings‘ son, the Rawlings family later filed a wrongful-death lawsuit seeking $100 million.

The case was settled out of court last fall for an undisclosed amount, though D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray later told WTOP Radio that the amount was less than $1 million.

The latest legal development stems from a 2010 personal-bankruptcy case filed by Mr. Rawlings and his wife, DeOnte’s stepmother, Sheila Rawlings. DeOnte’s mother, Loretta Hall, was not involved in the bankruptcy case, but she was a plaintiff along with Mr. Rawlings in the wrongful death lawsuit.

The trustee in the Rawlings’ personal-bankruptcy case, Bryan Ross, recently filed court papers demanding to know where the money went and seeking a court order securing the proceeds.

Mr. Ross‘ complaint also names as a defendant Mr. Rawlings‘ attorney, Gregory Lattimer, who represented the family in the wrongful-death case.

In addition, the trustee said the existence of the lawsuit, potentially worth millions of dollars before its settlement, was not disclosed on a statement of assets and liabilities filed when the Rawlings bankruptcy case began in 2010.

In response, Mr. Lattimer said the bankruptcy case has nothing to do with Mr. Rawlings‘ role as a representative of his son’s estate. In a phone interview, he said the complaint was an attempt by lawyers to access “blood money.”

“This is not money he won from the lottery or that he found on the street,” Mr. Lattimer said. “It’s money from the death of his child.”

In court papers, Mr. Lattimer argued that the settlement proceeds aren’t property the bankruptcy trustee can use, sell or lease.

“Those proceeds are the property of the estate of DeOnte Rawlings,” Mr. Lattimer wrote in a court pleading filed last week.

Mr. Lattimer also said that Mr. Rawlings and Ms. Hall, were the sole heirs of his estate and that the actions of Mr. Rawlings, as personal representative of his son’s estate, weren’t subject to review by the bankruptcy court.

“The [wrongful-death] lawsuit was not and is not an asset of the bankruptcy estate,” Mr. Lattimer argued in court papers.

He also said he already provided details about what was owed to Mr. Rawlings under the settlement.

According to bankruptcy filings, $361,352 was to be set aside for Mr. Rawlings, but terms for Ms. Hall’s share or for any other payments were not disclosed.

Mr. Lattimer said he wasn’t authorized to discuss any additional information about the settlement terms. Phone messages left with Mr. Ross and his attorney were not returned Thursday.

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