Apr 4, 2022 - News

Denver protesters' $14 million award carries national implications

Protesters march down the 16th Street Mall in response to George Floyd's murder in May 2020. Photo: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

A federal jury's groundbreaking decision to make the city of Denver pay $14 million to protesters who were injured by police during 2020 demonstrations over George Floyd's murder is rippling across the country.

Why it matters: The verdict could affect the outcome of dozens of similar pending lawsuits involving law enforcement's use of force during protests.

Details: At least 29 lawsuits have been filed in the U.S. based on officers firing rubber bullets, pepper balls and other less-lethal projectiles at protesters in summer 2020, the AP reports.

  • The outcome of Denver's case may convince other cities to settle the cases rather than risk losing at trial and could give protesters' attorneys the confidence to ask for higher settlement rewards.
  • The damages awarded in Denver could also persuade more protesters to pursue legal action.

What they're saying: "There's no doubt that the large jury verdict in Denver will influence the outcome of pending police misconduct cases brought by Black Lives Matter protesters across the country," Michael Steinberg, director of the Civil Rights Litigation Initiative, told the AP.

What to watch: As Axios Denver first reported, the city attorney's office is weighing whether to appeal the precedent-setting verdict.

  • A challenge is likely, considering appeals in such significant cases are common, Gloria Browne-Marshall, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told the AP.

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