Federal jury awards BLM protesters $14 million in compensatory and punitive damages
American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado legal director Mark Silverstein said the New York Times that “The verdict is a message to the police department, to the highest levels of the police department, but also a message to police departments across the country.”
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One of the complainants, Dr Stanford Smith, explained that he was simply talking with other protesters when riot police approached and sprayed them with pepper spray in the face. “I feared for my life, because I couldn’t see, I couldn’t breathe,” he said in an interview, but went on to say receiving money from Denver was not the way to go. why he joined. Highlighting the fact that he and others have rejected attempts to settle the lawsuit before a verdict is reached, Dr Smith told the Time“What the police did was wrong, and we wanted the facts to come out in court. It was never about a monetary settlement. For me, it was more about trying to create a way and a system in which the police are truly held accountable for their actions.
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One of the defendants in the lawsuit, police officer Jonathan Christian, was ordered to pay $250,000 in damages to Elisabeth Epps. Epps claimed she was hit and injured by a pepper ball fired at her by Christian. Christian admitted that he had pepperballed him but, according to The Denver Gazette, “disputed whether the pepper ball fired by Christian actually hit Epps.” Epps had this to say about the verdict.
“So to have jurors who don’t know me… having them see the same things that we’ve seen is incredibly empowering.
“It’s incredibly hot. I don’t know if I’ll ever see those eight people. But it’s really, really hot.”
The jury was deciding whether or not the 12 people named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit had had their constitutional rights violated. They did it. As a result, each applicant will receive no less than $750,000. The injuries of the 12 plaintiffs ranged from skull fractures and brain hemorrhages to chemical burns.
the Gazette listed the offsets:
- Claire Sannier: $1 million
- Stanford Smith: $1 million
- Zachary Packard: $3 million
- Sara Fitouri: $1 million
- Maya Rothlein: $1 million
- Amanda Blasingame: $1 million
- Joe Deras: $1 million
- Elle Taylor: $1 million
- Ashlee Wedgeworth, $750.00
- Jackie Parkins: $1 million
- Elisabeth Epps: $1 million in compensatory damages, $250,000 in punitive damages
- Hollis Lyman: $1 million
This jury award comes after other settlements were reached in similar cases against municipalities whose law enforcement officers abused citizens’ rights. The city of Austin, Texas, agreed in February to pay $10 million to two protesters seriously injured by “less lethal” munitions used during BLM protests at the same time. Columbus, Ohio, officials agreed to pay $5.75 million to 32 protesters injured by law enforcement during the same period.
Law enforcement absorbs far too many financial resources to do their job as badly as they do. Across the country, police departments cost taxpayers far more than the salaries and equipment they use and abuse. They are costing municipalities hundreds of millions of dollars in lawsuits.