In a significant legal resolution, Seattle has consented to pay $10 million to 50 protesters who filed a lawsuit against the city's police department for their forceful actions during the racial justice protests in 2020, triggered by the killing of George Floyd. The protests, which drew thousands, were marked by intense confrontations, particularly in the Capitol Hill area, leading to the creation of the “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest.”
The police, under then-Chief Carmen Best, employed aggressive methods like flash-bang grenades, foam-tipped projectiles, and blast balls releasing pepper gas to disperse the crowds. Despite instances of violence from some protesters, a federal judge intervened, restricting the use of such crowd control weapons against peaceful participants.
This lawsuit highlighted severe injuries sustained by demonstrators, including cardiac arrest, hearing loss, broken bones, and PTSD, as a result of police actions. Over 10,000 videos and numerous witness testimonies were reviewed during the case proceedings. Plaintiffs' attorney Karen Koehler urged for a historical examination of the collected evidence to shed light on the city's actions against the protesters.
While settling, City Attorney Ann Davison emphasized the settlement's role in averting further resource drainage, without the city admitting any liability. This settlement arrives as a pivotal closure to the intense legal scrutiny over the city's handling of the 2020 protests, with a trial initially set for May now averted.
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