Twelve more injured protesters sued Denver on Tuesday alleging police officers needlessly gassed them and shot them with projectiles without warning during the 2020 protests over the murder of George Floyd.
The lawsuit is at least the 15th filed against Denver in connection with the protests that began May 28, 2020, as the two-year statute of limitations for similar litigation draws near. The attorneys representing the plaintiffs are the same ones who in March won a $14 million judgment on behalf of other protesters injured by police.
“Despite being roundly condemned by a federal jury in the earlier suit, Denver’s policymakers continue to dig in their heels and refuse to admit any wrongdoing on the part of the officers they ultimately supervise,” attorney Elizabeth Wang said in a news release. “This head-in-the-sand attitude is a recipe for further police violence and other serious civil rights violations. Denver’s absolute refusal to consider significant institutional and policy changes and disciplining of violent officers is irresponsible from both public safety and public finance perspectives.”
Since the protests, Denver has paid out $1.4 million in settlements to protesters, not including the $14 million jury verdict.
The group of plaintiffs who sued Tuesday included students, a property manager, a software engineer, union organizers and a business owner.
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The plaintiffs alleged police shot them with projectiles or gassed them without warning while they were protesting peacefully. One man was shot twice with a pepper ball and tear-gassed. Another was shot with projectiles, including one that struck him in the head and left him with a bloody wound that required stitches.
The lawsuit alleges Denver police failed to properly train officers on crowd control, failed to properly track officers’ use of force and failed to discipline officers for using excessive force on protesters.
“Defendant Denver failed to train its officers in the constitutional responses to peaceful demonstrations, despite the history of such violations in the past and despite the obvious need for such training,” the lawsuit states. “The recurrence of the same violations with respect to these protestors indicates an intentional refusal to preserve the constitutional rights of protestors.”