George Floyd Protesters to Receive More Than $14M for Injuries Suffered

A group of protesters injured by police during the George Floyd demonstrations in 2020 has been awarded $14 million in compensation in a Denver civil rights settlement.

After a three-week trial, a jury on Friday found that the city and county of Denver violated the First and Fourth Amendment rights of 12 protesters. Jurors found that Denver failed to properly train officers, resulting in police violating the plaintiffs' constitutional rights.

Attorneys for the protesters argued rights were violated by police shooting them while they were protesting peacefully. Objects shot toward the crowd included tear gas, flashbang grenades, pepper balls, rubber bullets and other projectiles.

According to the lawsuit, "officers used these weapons indiscriminately and without any or adequate warning, even at times when the crowd was merely chanting, kneeling, or standing with their hands up."

Floyd protest Colorado
People march next to the Colorado State Capitol to protest the death of George Floyd on June 6, 2020, in Denver, Colorado. On Friday, $14 million was awarded to 12 protesters injured by Denver police during the protests. Getty Images

The plaintiffs' injuries included a skull fractured by a less-lethal projectile, eyes and throat burning from pepper spray and bruises and cuts from other projectiles, according to the lawsuit.

Protesters say the excessive force violated their rights to demonstrate and be protected from the unnecessary force. Each protester was awarded $1 million, except a man who ended up in the intensive care unit after being hit in the head with a less-lethal projectile, who received $4.5 million.

The death of Floyd drew nationwide outrage in May 2020 after a video circulated online showing Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes as he gasped for breath. The medical examiner ruled Floyd's death a homicide caused by a combination of the officer's use of force, the presence of fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system and underlying medical conditions.

Floyd's murder incited protests across the country against police brutality. The National Guard was activated in more than 15 states to control civil unrest.

The city of Denver released a statement after the verdict saying officers were prepared for a "worst-case scenario" but weren't fully prepared for what transpired during the protests.

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

The Denver Police Department and the Department of Safety announced they have made changes to how officers will respond to protests that erupt in violence in the future.

The changes include eliminating the use of 40mm "less lethal" equipment for crowd control. Less lethal equipment training will be "enhanced" to ensure appropriate use. All officers have since received additional training on crowd control response, police say.

"We continue to evaluate our policies and training to ensure we are using best practices identified by law enforcement throughout the country to better protect peaceful protestors while addressing those who are only there to engage in violence," the statement said.

In closing arguments, Timothy Mcdonald, a lawyer of one of the plaintiffs, told jurors the protesters were not in it for money, but to hold law enforcement accountable for the actions, according to the Associated Press.

"You have the ability to send a message to the Denver Police Department and police departments everywhere," he said.

Newsweek reached out to the ACLU of Denver, who represented seven of the plaintiffs, for comment.