Denver will appeal verdict awarding $14 million to 2020 protesters, mayor says
The city of Denver plans to appeal a court verdict last month that awarded $14 million to protesters a jury found were subjected to excessive police force during 2020 rallies.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock (D) told reporters on Thursday the racial justice protests in 2020 following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis were unprecedented and that many cities were unprepared for them, according to the The Denver Gazette.
“We’ve never seen that before, and while we were not perfect in our administration and dealing with the protest, we believe that we certainly have some reasons to go back and to look at a different type of decision with regards to that situation, so we will be appealing,” Hancock said, according to the newspaper.
A jury found in March that 11 protesters had their free speech rights and their rights to be protected from unreasonable force violated during the summer 2020 protests.
Police allegedly used shotguns that contained Kevlar bags filled with lead. Zach Packard, a protester who was hospitalized after being struck in the head with a shotgun blast, was awarded $3 million, the largest amount among the plaintiffs.
City lawyers had argued at trial that more than 80 officers were injured during the protests and protesters had incurred more than $1 million in damages.
Other cities across the country are also dealing with lawsuits or examining how they handled the waves of protests that erupted in 2020 over police brutality and racial justice concerns.
In Austin, Texas, 19 police officers who allegedly used excessive force during 2020 protests were indicted in February on the same day the city awarded $10 million to two protesters injured during the demonstrations.
The announcement that Denver will appeal was met with criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, which represented the protesters in court.
“Instead of wasting time and money challenging the jury’s verdict,” Mark Silverstein, the organization’s legal director, said in a statement to Axios. “Denver should focus on fixing its police force.”