Widow Awarded $6m from police following suicide of husband, who had been accused of murder

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For Rebecca Brown, it was never about the money. It was about clearing her husband Kevin’s name after the San Diego Police Department issued a press release days after he committed suicide in 2014 claiming he had killed a child in 1984.

Last Friday, the 66-year-old widow spent a bittersweet Valentine’s Day in a San Diego courthouse, where a jury awarded her $6 million, including $3 million for “the loss of her husband’s companionship.”

And on Tuesday, now-retired SDPD detective Michael Lambert, who Rebecca alleged had misled a judge to secure a warrant to search her husband’s property was ordered to personally pay her $50,000 in punitive damages.

“I’m sure they will appeal the decision, but now it’s on the record,” Rebecca tells PEOPLE.

Both Rebecca and her attorney were willing to limit the punitive damages to $1 if Lambert had apologized. He didn’t.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that in Tuesday’s hearing, Lambert testified that the verdict was a “gut punch for me. I believed I did the best I could on this case.”

Lambert added the verdict is “forever going to hurt my reputation as a cop.”

Rebecca says Lambert smeared the reputation of Kevin, a former forensic criminologist in the department and Lambert’s former colleague.

In her lawsuit, she alleged the department drove Kevin, who suffered from depression and anxiety, to suicide with their allegation that he killed a 14-year-old girl.

“When the unanimous judgment came down, it meant the detective was wrong and it was total vindication for Kevin,” Rebecca tells PEOPLE.

“The San Diego Police department issued that press release and thought, ‘Case closed!’ But I was not going to let that happen.”

It was a victory in Rebecca’s quest to clear her husband’s name, but small comfort for the Catholic school teacher who thought she would spend her retirement with her beloved husband she described as a “gentle person who would never hurt anyone.”

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