Julia Cardi

The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

It took jurors round 4 hours to seek out that Denver police violated the constitutional rights of demonstrators by utilizing extreme pressure throughout George Floyd protests in 2020. The jury awarded the protesters $14 million in damages.

The case went to the jury Friday morning when attorneys wrapped up their closing statements after three weeks of trial.

A dozen protesters had introduced the federal excessive-force case in opposition to Denver, claiming that misuse of less-lethal weapons by police in the course of the 2020 demonstrations violated their constitutional protections in opposition to extreme pressure and free of charge speech, peaceable meeting and to petition their authorities.

Much less-lethal munitions consult with projectile weapons and to chemical brokers corresponding to tear gasoline and pepper spray. The time period has been criticized as a result of the gadgets it covers could cause severe harm or dying.

Former Denver Officer Jonathan Christian additionally has been sued for capturing at one of many protesters, present state legislative candidate Elisabeth Epps, with a pepper ball. He’s the one particular person officer named within the case.

The jurors discovered Christian violated Epps’ Fourth Modification rights and awarded her $250,000 in punitive damages. They denied her First Modification claims in opposition to him.

At trial the 2 sides disputed whether or not the pepper ball fired by Christian truly hit Epps. She stated after the decision got here down it had felt “disorienting” for the town to problem her account of what she skilled.

“So to have jurors who don’t know me … to have them see the identical issues that we noticed, it’s extremely validating.

“It feels extremely heat. I don’t know that I’ll ever see these eight folks. But it surely feels actually, actually heat.”

Attorneys for the protesters have sought to indicate that none of them ever assaulted officers or destroyed property.

For the protesters to win their case, the jury needed to determine that the town precipitated the extreme makes use of of pressure by a failure to correctly practice officers, different insurance policies and practices, or by policymakers for the town approving of the officers’ conduct.

For practically all the protesters, the jury discovered the town liable due to all three on each their Fourth and First Modification claims. They solely denied plaintiff Ashlee Wedgeworth’s Fourth Modification claims, and awarded her $750,000.

As the decision for the primary protester, Claire Sannier, was learn, the group of plaintiffs set free a collective sigh.

“Hopefully what police departments will take from that is {that a} jury of normal residents takes these rights very significantly,” legal professional Tim Macdonald stated.

The jury was restricted to deciding whether or not the 12 plaintiffs had their constitutional rights violated, that means they couldn’t win their case due to due to extreme pressure used in opposition to different folks not named within the swimsuit.

Denver has stated the Police Division did the most effective it might to adapt to the protests that erupted shortly and included individuals who harmed officers and destroyed property alongside peaceable protesters.

Beneath is a breakdown of the awards given to every plaintiff within the case. All of the damages are compensatory, aside from the punitive quantity awarded to Epps for her declare in opposition to Christian.

* 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


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