Denver police officers aren’t the only ones alleged to use excessive force and brutal tactics during 2020 racial justice protests, but a trial challenging the city’s police practices and procedures is underway. Per the ACLU of Colorado, the trial is thought to be the first in the country to challenge policing policies and procedures during the 2020 racial justice protests.
From reports, over 60 people reported injuries after police violently responded with less-lethal to protests after the murder of George Floyd by former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin. The case differs from other high-profile police cases as it is not a criminal case but a civil suit against city and county authorities and individual officers.
Twelve people brought the current lawsuit, some represented by the ACLU of Colorado and the law firm Arnold & Porter and others represented by the civil rights law firm Loevy & Loevy. It is expected to last three weeks.
“Plaintiffs allege that Denver failed to train its officers in the constitutional responses to peaceful demonstrations, despite history of such violations in the past and the clear need for such training, and that Denver sanctioned and ratified the misconduct of its officers by failing to discipline them for their excessive use of force,” the ACLU of Colorado explained. “Plaintiffs are asking a jury to hold the City of Denver and its police department accountable for their policies and practices that caused widespread violations of the protesters’ constitutional rights.”
According to Axios, the city has paid out more than $3 million for police brutality claims from 2020 alone. Axios’s coverage noted the judge presiding over the trial is the same person who issued a temporary restraining order in June 2020 against police use of “chemical weapons” and projectiles against protestors. (Read the full Axios coverage here).
The Denver City Council approved a $500,000 settlement for a student shot in the eye during 2020 racial justice protests in January. The Denver Gazette reported that student Michael Acker filed a suit alleging Denver police used excessive force and violated his First Amendment rights. (Read the full report from the Denver Gazette here).
“The protest and the way that they were policed are a symptom of the overall disease within the Denver Police Department of using gratuitously excessive force and responding to any criticism of the police with police violence,” an attorney representing the student told the Denver Gazette.