PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — State Sen. Louise Lucas said she will be donating all the money received in her recent settlement with the former Portsmouth police chief and a police sergeant to charity.
Lucas revealed her intentions in a statement on Friday afternoon, a little more than two weeks after her case was settled in court.
Lucas (D-Portsmouth) sued former Portsmouth Police Chief Angela Greene and Portsmouth Police Sgt. Kevin McGee, saying they unlawfully charged her in connection with Confederate monument destruction in June 2020.
Those charges were later dropped and the City of Portsmouth paid for the representation of both Greene and McGee. The $300,000 was agreed upon in mediation, according to Burle Stromberg, the city’s interim city attorney.
Lucas, who previously lost a defamation case surrounding the incident, originally demanded $6.7 million. She said she is “pleased” they agreed to settle the matter, and signaled that she understands the concern of accepting funds from the cash-strapped city.
“That’s why I am pledging that I will be donating the entirety of what I receive in the settlement to the charitable efforts in our community I have been involved with for so many years,” Lucas said. “These funds will be used to help our most vulnerable communities and will help continue the work I have been doing- and will continue to do- to benefit our community.”
Lucas did not mention specific charities by name besides the one in her name: the Senator L. Louise Lucas Legacy Fund through the Hampton Roads Community Foundation.
Vice Mayor De’Andre Barnes said he was happy to hear Lucas’ decision. However, he is upset about the process.
Barnes said Portsmouth City Council did not agree on the Lucas settlement, as they did for $150,000 worth of settlement payments for 10 others involved in the monument destruction. He said the issue was only discussed briefly in closed session.
“That’s what the lawyer recommended and nobody was against it,” Barnes said. “Myself, I was against it because, in a big decision like that, the City Council should be making the decision, not somebody else or a third party. But too often politics gets in the way and people are too scared to do the jobs people asked us to do.”
Barnes would not reveal comments made in closed session by other council members. Councilwoman Lisa Lucas-Burke previously said she was recusing herself on account of Lucas being her mother.
Lucas’ involvement in what happened at the Confederate monument remains a toxic issue within the city.
On June 10, 2020, Lucas arrived at the site of the Confederate monument at its longtime location near the intersection of High and Court streets, after two NAACP members were arrested for trespassing. Police body camera video shows Lucas telling officers that protesters were going to “paint” the more than century-old monument and said, “you can’t stop them.”
The historic structure was painted, damaged and later that night, a man was nearly killed when part of the monument was pulled down on top of him.
A petition to recall Lucas from her Senate seat was launched shortly thereafter, and supporters of Lucas called for the resignation of Greene.
Greene was later terminated and has now sued the City of Portsmouth as well as Lucas as part of a wrongful termination and defamation case. She is now the police chief in Lexington, Virginia.
In a statement Friday, her attorney in that case — Thomas Plofchan Jr — called the settlement illegal as he said Greene never agreed to it.
“Neither Green nor her attorney signed an agreement to mediate,” the statement said. “The City knew Greene had meritorious defenses to the lawsuit, and counsel for Greene informed the City that he would be filing a Motion to Dismiss in Federal court which would likely result in the claims against Greene being dismissed on the merits, without the need for, and expense of a negotiated payment.”
Plofchan believes this was a violation of the city’s risk management policy and thinks it was done with an ulterior motive.
“They want to paint Chief Greene as doing something wrong when she has not. They are trying to play out Chief Greene’s case in the media as they know they owe Greene a lot more than $300,000,” Plofchan said in an interview.
Greene and her attorney filed a notice in federal court Monday, saying Greene didn’t participate in any settlement agreement in the case. The document also said Greene will only consent to a dismissal of the case if Lucas agrees to dismiss the case against Greene without any reference to a settlement.
Stromberg maintains the process was followed legally.
Greene’s case is scheduled for a hearing later this month.
Lucas released a statement Friday about the settlement:
“I have spent my entire career advocating for constituents in the City of Portsmouth and our neighboring communities. In addition to my service in the Virginia Senate, I have been a leader in charitable efforts in our community, including housing, religious organizations, educational opportunities, homeless issues, assisting with funeral expenses for children in our city who have been victims of gun violence, and paying utility bills for those in need. I am also honored to have the Senator L. Louise Lucas Legacy Fund through the Hampton Roads Community Foundation and was honored as a leading Black Philanthropist in our region.
“My lawsuit regarding the actions around the June 10th, 2020 demonstration speaks for itself. I’m pleased the City of Portsmouth has agreed to settle this matter on behalf of former police chief Angela Greene and Sgt. Kevin McGee.
“I also understand that any settlement from a locality impacts their ability to fund critical programs in our community. That’s why I am pledging that I will be donating the entirety of what I receive in the settlement to the charitable efforts in our community I have been involved with for so many years. These funds will be used to help our most vulnerable communities and will help continue the work I have been doing- and will continue to do- to benefit our community.
“As a State Senator, business leader and leading community philanthropist I have always put people in our community first and will continue to do so.”State Sen. Louis Lucas, (D-Portsmouth)
Greene’s attorney also released a full statement Friday: