Mar 24, 2022 - News

Denver protesters want $17.5M in damages in federal case against city

Police officers walk through a cloud of tear gas as they try to disperse people protesting in Denver on May 30, 2020. Photo: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images
Police officers walk through a cloud of tear gas as they try to disperse people protesting in Denver on May 30, 2020. Photo: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

A federal jury on Friday is expected to begin deliberating the case against the city of Denver and its police department for its use of force during the 2020 George Floyd protests.

What's new: The 12 racial justice protesters behind the lawsuit β€” all of whom were shot, gassed or sprayed by officers β€” are seeking $17.5 million in compensatory damages, attorneys told the jury during the start of closing arguments Thursday.

  • Zach Packard, a competitive skateboarder who suffered a fractured skull and jaw, as well as a brain bleed, wants $4.5 million.
  • Joe Deras, a state teacher's union employee who was shot multiple times and went to the emergency room, is seeking $2 million.
  • The other 10 plaintiffs are requesting $1.1 million.

Why it matters: It's the first time the injured protesters made public the total damages requested, and it came as their attorneys closed out their arguments in the nationally significant trial.

Details: In his closing remarks, Tim Macdonald, who represents seven of the protesters, focused on how four of the 111 officers involved were disciplined, and urged the jury to hold the city accountable.

  • "More tear gas, more tear gas, more tear gas," he said, showing the jury images of the police response. "This is a widespread custom and practice of violence and aggression against the protesters."

Earlier Thursday, the city's defense attorneys focused on the number of police officers injured and property destruction caused by some protesters as they questioned the final witnesses.

  • "The crowd was much more violent, much more destructive than anything we anticipated or prepared for," division chief Ron Thomas told jurors.

What's next: The city's attorneys will make their final arguments Friday morning before the jury begins deliberating three weeks of testimony from protesters, police officers and law enforcement experts.

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