Jury awards George Floyd protesters $14 million in lawsuit over police response to demonstrations

A federal jury on Friday decided to award $14 million in damages to protesters who claimed their constitutional rights were violated by police in Denver in 2020.

Protests and riots erupted in cities across the country following the 2020 death of George Floyd in Minnesota. Twelve protesters eventually filed suit against the City and County of Denver, claiming police used excessive force against them.

All together, the plaintiffs, who were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, sought $17.5 million, as KCNC-TV reported.

“The jury of eight Coloradans found that Denver failed to properly train its officers and that the lack of training led to police violating the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights under the First and Fourth amendments,” according to The Denver Post.

Plaintiff Zachary Packard received the largest payout, $3 million. Packard suffered bleeding in the brain, a fractured skull and jaw, and two fractured disks after being hit in the head and knocked unconscious by a projectile, according to the complaint.

However, attorneys for the city pointed to the chaotic, dangerous situation police were dealing with, while acknowledging that officers did make mistakes.

“In 40 years I never saw such anger against police,” retired Denver police commander Patrick Phelan, who oversaw protest response during the demonstrations, testified.

It was difficult to tell who was throwing projectiles and behaving in a violent manner during the chaos, police officers said.

“We were prepared for a worst-case scenario, but we weren’t fully prepared for what transpired,” the Denver Department of Public Safety said in a statement following the verdict.

“”Unfortunately, Denver Police Department officers and other law enforcement officers responding to assist encountered extreme destructive behavior from some agitators among largely peaceful protestors. We recognize that some mistakes were made.”

Even aside from the verdict, the case itself was significant.

According to The Associated Press, “Lawyers involved believed it was the first trial in a lawsuit challenging officer tactics during the 2020 protests that erupted around the nation” following the death of Floyd.