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Jury awards USD14M to Floyd protesters in Denver

DENVER (AP) – Jurors on Friday found police used excessive force against protesters, violating their constitutional rights, during demonstrations over the killing of George Floyd two years ago, ordering the city to pay a total of USD14 million in damages to a group of 12 who sued.

The jury of two men and six women, largely white and drawn from around Colorado, returned its verdict after about four hours of deliberations. The verdict followed three weeks of testimony and evidence that included police and protester video of incidents.

Lawyers involved believed it was the first trial in a lawsuit challenging officer tactics during the 2020 protests that erupted around the nation over the police killing of Floyd and other Black people.

The protesters who sued were shot at or hit by everything from pepper spray to a Kevlar-bag filled with lead shot fired from a shotgun. Zach Packard, who was hit in the head by the shotgun blast and ended up in the intensive care unit, received the largest damage amount – USD3 million.

The protesters said the actions of police violated their free speech rights and rights to be protected from unreasonable force. Jurors found violations of both rights for 11 of the protesters and only free speech violations for the other.

The protesters claimed Denver was liable for the police actions through its policies, including giving officers wide discretion in using what police call “less lethal” devices, failing to train officers on them, and not requiring them to use their body-worn cameras during the protests to deter indiscriminate uses of force.

During the trial, Denver admitted that mistakes were made at the protests, which it said were unprecedented in their size, duration and amount of violence and destruction.

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