Detroit offers to settle lawsuits with anti-police brutality protesters for $1.3M

Detroit police are accused of using excessive force to break up peaceful demonstrations

Jul 27, 2022 at 12:38 pm
click to enlarge Police use a baton during an Aug. 23, 2020, protest in Detroit. - Attorneys for Detroit Will Breathe
Attorneys for Detroit Will Breathe
Police use a baton during an Aug. 23, 2020, protest in Detroit.

The city of Detroit is offering nearly $1.3 million to settle lawsuits filed by anti-police brutality protesters following the death of George Floyd in 2020.

The Detroit City Council approved the settlement on Tuesday.

It’s now up to protesters to decide if they want to accept the settlement or take the lawsuits to trial.

Under the proposed settlement, Detroit Will Breathe, a popular protest group, and 14 plaintiffs, would receive $1,035,000. An additional $150,000 would be paid to Nadia Rohr, who received a brain injury when she was struck by a rubber bullet.

Another $60,000 would go to Emma Howland-Bolton, a legal observer who was tackled and arrested. Four other plaintiffs would each receive $60,000, and $10,000 each would go to Marlon Frazier and Timothy Hall.

The city would also pay for the plaintiffs' attorney fees.

Thousands of people participated in protests across the city beginning in May 2020. According to several lawsuits filed against the city, police used unnecessary, excessive force to break up peaceful demonstrations against police brutality.

The lawsuits allege police violated protesters’ constitutional rights by responding to peaceful demonstrations with “beatings, tear gas, pepper spray, and mass arrests.” Some of the protesters were hospitalized with serious injuries.

Detroit Will Breathe grew out of the protests and became a powerful movement that called attention to police brutality and racist police practices.

In a statement to Metro Times on Wednesday, Deputy Corporation Counsel Chuck Raimi defended the police and acknowledged no wrongdoing by the city.

"The overwhelming majority of Detroit Police Department officers conducted themselves with courage and honor during the George Floyd protests, despite innumerable violent attacks and other shameful conduct by protestors,” Raimi said.

He added, “The City’s law department’s offers of judgment reflect the unfortunate reality that in our litigious society, and particularly in cases of this sort where plaintiffs’ lawyers (but not the City’s lawyers) have the opportunity to recover enormous attorney fees payable by the City, the City’s financial interests may be best served by seeking a settlement."

It's not yet clear whether protesters will accept the settlements. Detroit Will Breathe declined to comment until plaintiffs have a chance to consult with their attorneys.

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