Federal jury awards George Floyd protesters for police excessive force

CTN News


A federal jury’s $14 million award to Denver protesters hit with pepper balls and a bag filled with lead during 2020 demonstrations over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis could resonate nationwide as courts weigh more than two dozen similar lawsuits.

The jury found police used excessive force against protesters, violating their constitutional rights, and ordered the city of Denver to pay 12 who sued.

Nationwide, there are at least 29 pending lawsuits challenging law enforcement use of force during the 2020 protests, according to a search of the University of Michigan’s Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse.

The verdict in Denver could give cities an incentive to settle similar cases rather than risk going to trial and losing, said Michael J. Steinberg, a professor at the University of Michigan Law School and director of the Civil Rights Litigation Initiative. It could also prompt more protesters to sue over their treatment at the hands of police.

“There’s no doubt that the large jury verdict in Denver will influence the outcome of pending police misconduct cases brought by Black Lives Matter protesters across the country,” said Dr. Steinberg, whose law students have been working on a similar lawsuit brought by protesters in Detroit.

Lawyers for the claimants argued that police used indiscriminate force against the nonviolent protesters, including some who were filming the demonstrations, because officers did not like their message critical of law enforcement.

“To the protest of police violence they responded with brutality,” one of their attorneys, Timothy Macdonald, told jurors.

People who took part in the protests have already made similar allegations in lawsuits filed across the country.

In Washington, D.C., activists and civil liberties groups sued over the forcible removal of protesters before then-President Donald Trump walked to a church near the White House for a photo op. The…

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