EUCLID, Ohio (WJW) – A Cuyahoga County jury has awarded a multi-million dollar judgment to the family of a man shot and killed by a Euclid police officer. 

Officer, now Sgt. Matthew Rhodes was cleared of criminal wrongdoing, but this afternoon a jury decided the officer and city were liable for his wrongful death.

The jury awarded the family of Luke Stewart $4.4 million in compensatory damages. 

His family says although the money won’t bring back their loved one, they believe it sends a strong message to the Euclid Police Department.

“I think that Mr. Rhodes got a taste of his own medicine. Stop doing wrong, play by the rules,” said Luke Stewart’s mother, Mary Stewart, after the court hearing downtown at the Justice Center.

The family of the 23-year-old says after five years of fighting the legal system, they believe justice has been served. 

Investigators say in March 2017, officers responded to a suspicious vehicle and found Luke Stewart asleep inside his car. 

They say an officer saw a marijuana cigarette and drug paraphernalia. An investigation revealed when Officer Rhodes tried to pull Luke Stewart, who wasn’t armed, from the vehicle to question him, Stewart put the car in drive.

Officer Rhodes said he was hanging onto the vehicle and eventually jumped inside, where he punched Luke Stewart, shot him six times with a taser, then finally three times with his gun, killing him. 

The Stewart family never believed deadly force was necessary.

“It took this family five years of pain and fight to get to this point where members of the jury saw the truth and did what was right to hold this officer accountable for his wrongdoing and we’re grateful to them for doing that,” said Sarah Gelsomino, one of the Stewart family’s attorneys.

When reporter Kevin Freeman approached Sgt. Rhodes after the hearing, he responded, “I have no comment at this time.”

Luke Stewart’s mother says the last five years have been difficult and she would exchange the $4.4 million judgment to have her son back.

“He has two boys, they’re 9 and 11. They’re at the age that they understand what’s going on and they really don’t like it at all. They feel Rhodes killed their dad for no reason and they miss their dad, they miss being around him,” she said.

The city of Euclid issued a statement, saying they are disappointed with the outcome of the trial and they’re evaluating their next course of action.