The city of Denver will pay $1.6 million to settle lawsuits filed by seven people who police injured during demonstrations over the killing of George Floyd in 2020.
The City Council approved the settlements Monday, the largest of which will be paid to Gabriel Schlough, whom police shot in the face with a rubber bullet during the May 2020 protest, The Denver Post reported. The protesters claimed police shot them with pepper balls, rubber bullets and flash-bang devices, even though they were demonstrating peacefully.
Andy McNulty, an attorney who represented the protesters, said the officers’ tactics were “brutal and intolerable in a society that believes in freedom of speech.”
One woman who sued said she was walking away from police when an officer shot her in the head with a rubber bullet, which knocked her unconscious. Another man sued because he said police tear-gassed him while he was peacefully protesting with his 12- and 18-year-old sons.
The Denver Police Department declined to comment Tuesday.
The protest in downtown Denver happened shortly after a white police officer pinned Floyd to the pavement outside a Minneapolis corner store for more than nine minutes as the Black man pleaded, “I can’t breathe,” and became unresponsive. The May 25, 2020, killing sparked protests worldwide in a reckoning over police brutality and racism.
Last year, jurors ordered the city of Denver to pay $14 million in damages to another group of 12 protesters who claimed police used excessive force during demonstrations over Floyd’s killing.
The protesters who sued said they were shot at or hit by pepper spray and less lethal shotgun blasts. Zach Packard, whom police hit in the head with a shotgun blast and ended up in the intensive care unit, received the largest damage amount — $3 million.
More than 80 officers were injured as protesters hurled rocks, water bottles and canned food at them. The state Capitol, the hub of the protests, incurred $1.1 million in damage, according to the city.
Lawyers for the protesters who sued stressed they were not accused of being violent themselves.