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Richmond Police Settle Federal Lawsuit Over Misconduct Claims During 2020 Protest

In Richmond, Virginia, two police officers, Christopher Brown, and Mark Janowski, settled a federal lawsuit with two women who claimed the officers used a chemical irritant on them during a 2020 protest over George Floyd's murder. The incident occurred in May 2020 when the women were in a car stopped at a red light. The officers were initially charged with assault and battery, but the charges were dropped in 2022 after they completed a restorative justice program and community service.

The two women, who did not meet with the officers for an apology, filed a federal lawsuit seeking $2 million in damages, alleging constitutional rights violations, battery, assault, gross negligence, and wanton conduct. While a federal judge dismissed claims against the city due to sovereign immunity, the case against the officers proceeded. Brown and Janowski denied wrongdoing, but the lawsuit was settled out of court with undisclosed terms.

The Richmond Police Department acknowledged the settlement, noting the confidentiality of the terms and confirming that Brown and Janowski remain employed. The attorneys involved did not provide comments on the settlement.

Protests following George Floyd's death led to civil unrest in Richmond, including the use of tear gas on protesters and damage to businesses. The city has settled multiple police misconduct lawsuits totaling over $1 million and has made efforts to increase transparency in police policies.

Court documents revealed that the women, aged 17 to 19, were sprayed with O.C. fogger after shouting at officers. The officers approached the car and used the irritant despite being trained not to. The women experienced severe and prolonged discomfort. The officers, however, denied all allegations of excessive force and constitutional violations, claiming their actions were justified.

Link: WRIC


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