3 Al Jazeera Journalists Receive $280K Settlement After Being Tear Gassed in Ferguson

Three Al Jazeera journalists who were tear gassed in Ferguson, Missouri while covering a protest after Michael Brown's death in 2014 received a settlement of $280,000 from the county whose SWAT team was responsible for the tear gas.

Months of protests followed the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Brown, who was Black, by a white police officer in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson in August 2014. Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Brown, was not charged with a crime but resigned in November.

The protests drew media attention from around the world, including Al Jazeera America. Al Jazeera journalists, correspondent Ash-har Quraishi, producer Marla Cichowski and photojournalist Sam Winslade, had been preparing to make a live broadcast on the protests when the St. Charles County SWAT team fired tear gas.

According to the law firm Lathrop GPM, which represented the journalists, St. Charles County agreed to pay the settlement.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Ferguson Protests
A law enforcement officer confronts a protester after a demonstration at the Ferguson Police Department on May 31 in Ferguson, Missouri. Al Jazeera journalists who were tear gassed by the St. Charles County SWAT team received $280,000 in a settlement. Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images

The law firm said video evidence contradicted police claims that tear gas was used in response to protesters throwing bottles and rocks at officers. The firm said several videos showed there were no protesters in the area and no one was throwing anything at police.

St. Charles County spokeswoman Mary Enger said a SWAT team deputy fired the canister "to clear an area near what he did not know at the time was an Al Jazeera news crew." She said the county and the deputy continue to "maintain that the deputy exercised proper judgment in firing a single tear gas canister during a period of unprecedented public disorder in the region."

Bernie Rhodes, the attorney for the journalists, said the award was much larger than other settlements involving journalists in Ferguson because those settlements were reached before George Floyd's death in Minneapolis in May 2020, which was captured on video. Former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, faces sentencing Friday after being convicted in April in the death of Floyd, who was Black.

"The jury's verdict finding Chauvin guilty of George Floyd's murder represents a turning point in America: jurors will no longer rely on law enforcement's version of what happened, especially where there is video that affirmatively disproves the police," Rhodes said in a news release.

Tear Gas Being Thrown
In this Aug. 13, 2014, file photo Edward Crawford Jr., returns a tear gas canister fired by police who were trying to disperse protesters in Ferguson, Missouri. Three journalists with Al Jazeera America who were tear-gassed during a protest in Ferguson, after Michael Brown's death in 2014 have settled a lawsuit with the county whose SWAT team fired the tear gas. St. Charles County agreed to pay $280,000, according to the law firm that represented the journalists. Robert Cohen/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP