ATLANTA — Attorneys for the family of a Georgia Tech student who was shot and killed in an encounter with campus police said Thursday they had reached a $1 million settlement with the state in the 2017 incident.
Scout Schultz was remembered by their father as someone whose potential was "limitless" back when a lawsuit was announced against Georgia Tech in 2019.
On Thursday, attorney L. Chris Stewart said it was the family's wish to see substantive change in both policing and policies for LGBTQIA+ students on campus, and believed they had achieved that.
The attorney characterized the settlement as one of the largest of its kind in Georgia "against a university's police force in an officer-involved shooting."
Schultz identified as nonbinary and intersex and preferred the pronouns they/them. They were a standout engineering student and the president of the Pride Alliance at the school at the time of their death.
When the lawsuit was announced, Stewart described Scultz as a "literal genius."
"Scout’s memory will forever be that now the officers have Tasers, now all of the officers have to do crisis intervention training, which deals with mental health emergencies, which is gonna protect countless students," Stewart said.
Prior to the shooting, Georgia Tech campus officers were not equipped with Tasers, and all campus police are now required to undergo 40 hours of Crisis Intervention training.
In the wake of Schultz's death, the school also expanded its LGBTQIA+ resource center and enhanced its student mental health services.
Stewart commended Tech for the efforts the school took to make meaningful changes after Schultz's death.
He said the school had shown a "willingness to meet with the family, to talk, to implement the changes, to listen to the LGBTQIA community and see what changes need to happen, making sure that the students feel that they’re part of a community."
Stewart, who was part of the legal team for George Floyd's family during the trial against the Minneapolis officer who killed Floyd, said in Schultz's case the student's family "really wanted to see change and that happened in this situation."
In a statement, Georgia Tech said: "We all continue to celebrate the impact Scout Schultz had on members of the GT community, and mourn their loss. The recent settlement between Scout’s family and the Georgia Department of Administrative Services gives us a moment to reflect again on ways Georgia Tech can better support all members of the campus community. While we’ve significantly increased campus mental health resources and well-being programs over the last four years, we are reminded today of the importance of continued work in this area."
In a statement, Stewart reflected on Schultz's legacy.
"Students have let us know the LGBTQIA community is often overlooked and we hope these positive changes continue and that Scout's life will stand for change," he said.
A GBI investigation determined the 2017 incident began with Schultz calling 911 to report a suspicious person on campus.
The call described a "white male, with long blonde hair, white t-shirt & blue jeans who is possibly intoxicated, holding a knife and possibly armed with a gun on his hip."
When police arrived, they encountered Schultz, whom they said was holding a knife. Officers said they made multiple attempts to get Schultz to drop the item, but the student did not comply. They claimed Schultz advanced at them when an officer, Tyler Beck, shot the student.
The GBI investigation found a "multi-purpose tool that contained a knife" was recovered at the scene. No gun was found.
"This is a situation where you back up and you simply de-escalate," Stewart said in 2019. "But he didn't have that training."
On Thursday, the attorney emphasized the benefits of the training officers will now receive.
The Fulton County District Attorney's Office determined last year the shooting was justified.
Lawyers for Schultz's family said in 2019 that Beck was still on the Georgia Tech force at that time. The school said Thursday that no longer is the case.