$5.75M Settlement Announced as Ohio Protestors Detail Injuries Sustained From Police

Three Ohio protestors detailed injuries sustained from police while protesting against racial injustice and police brutality in Columbus on Friday, a day after a $5.75 million settlement was announced for 32 people injured in the protests.

The city of Columbus and lawyers for the 32 people announced the settlement. Next week, Columbus City Council is expected to approve it.

The injuries were from protests that began in late May 2020 after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Chauvin was convicted of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter earlier this year.

Reverend Clarressa Thompson said that even though she wore her clergy robes and held a sign that said, "No Violence—God Lives," she was pepper-sprayed and pushed down.

Tammy Fournier Alsaada, a community activist, said she heard "bangs and pops" when she was given permission to walk past a line of police to investigate reports of people being arrested.

"The only thing I can describe it as, is the sounds of war that I witness on TV," Alsaada said during an online news conference. "As I looked in the air, all I could see was arches of smoke and cannisters raining down on me and the people that were with me."

She said she was temporarily blinded, pushed to the ground, hit by a police horse, and later was chased and corralled by law enforcement.

Bernadette Calvey had been walking with her roommate with no intention of protesting when she came across some protestors, deciding if she should join. Suddenly, she was hit in the face by a wooden bullet that left a scar on her chin. She said had the bullet struck her higher, she could have lost teeth or an eye.

"It was a very eye-opening experience to see the police violence first hand," she said.

2020 Protests, Injuries, Police, Columbus
Three protestors told details of their injuries sustained by police unprovoked during protests last year against police brutality and racial injustice. In this photo, protesters hold placards and raise their arms as they gather peacefully to protest the death of George Floyd at the State Capital building in downtown Columbus, Ohio, on June 1, 2020. Seth Herald/AFP via Getty Images

People suffered permanent scarring, fractured ankles, other broken bones, a severe eye injury, an injury requiring a total knee replacement, and ongoing post-traumatic stress disorder, said attorney Chanda Brown.

"They came to nonviolently protest police violence and were met with police violence," Brown said Friday.

Payouts will vary based on the extent of protesters' individual injuries, and will be determined during a series of private meetings with a special master hired to review each case, said John Marshall, the lead attorney in the federal lawsuit brought by the injured protesters.

The settlement also finalizes details of a federal judge's ruling earlier this year that ordered Columbus police to stop using nonlethal force such as tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets on nonviolent protesters who aren't harming people or destroying property.

Police testified about facing chaotic and threatening situations.

"People were walking up to us with bottles and opening them and throwing, like, unknown liquids on us, yelling in our face," Officer Anthony Johnson said, according to court documents.

Columbus protests lasted multiple days downtown, near Ohio State University, and across other parts of the city. The first night, protesters smashed windows at the Ohio Statehouse and businesses throughout downtown.

In a separate episode, U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty was hit by pepper spray as scuffles broke out near the end of a May demonstration.

A report released last spring said Columbus was unprepared for the size and energy of the protests and that most police officers felt abandoned by city leadership during that time. The report, commissioned by the city council, also found the city had no advance plan for handling such protests, and suffered from a lack of coordination and even regular communication among city leaders once the protests began.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

2020 Protests, Injuries, Police, Columbus
Columbus City Council is expected to approve the $5.75 million settlement next week for 32 people regarding police response to protests that erupted in late May 2020 after the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. In this photo, hearts with the names of black people who died at the hands of police are displayed on a fence as part of a protest at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday, June 6, 2020. Julie Carr Smyth/AP Photo