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Jury: Denver Must Pay $14M for Police Force Against Protesters

On Friday, jurors ordered Denver city and county pay $14 million in damages for the police department's handling of the 2020 demonstrations after the killing of George Floyd, reports the New York Times. The case was the nation's first police misconduct lawsuit to go to trial after the 2020 protests. The eight Coloradans found that the police violated protesters' First and Fourth Amendment rights after reviewing expert testimony and video evidence from cell phones and police body cams. “The verdict is a message to the police department, to the highest echelons of the police department, but also a message to police departments all over the country,” said Mark Silverstein of the Colorado American Civil Liberties Union which represented the plaintiffs in the case.

Zach Packard received the most in damages, $3 million, for officers' firing projectiles that knocked him unconscious and sending him to the intensive care unit. Another plaintiff, Dr. Stanford Smith, said he feared for his life after police hit him with pepper spray without warning. Officials have acknowledged police shortcomings during the protest but argued that protesters caused unprecedented violence and destruction. The Denver Department of Public Safety, which includes the police department, said, "Unfortunately, Denver Police Department officers and other law enforcement officers responding to assist encountered extreme destructive behavior from some agitators among largely peaceful protesters. We recognize that some mistakes were made.”