COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)–The city of Columbus will pay out about $5.75 million to protestors who filed a federal lawsuit following the Black Lives Matter protests in Columbus.
The suit claims the plaintiffs were falsely arrested and assaulted by Columbus police officers. The settlement was announced Thursday by the city and attorneys who represented the protestors.
Attorney Fred Gittes said this settlement is a major step forward for Columbus, specifically, the injunction which he says will protect other people in the future.
“It’s the result of a lot of I think courageous individuals who were willing to put their names on a lawsuit against the police department that is not an easy thing to do,” said Attorney Frank Gittes.
Gittes explained that body camera video from the 2020 protests shows peaceful people being gassed, shot at with wooden bullets, and being rammed by bikes officers were riding.
“A number of people had to have surgery I mean there were very serious injuries some of them will last the rest of their lives.”
The city said the funds to pay for the settlement will come from its general fund and will need to be approved by the city council.
City Attorney Zach Klein released a statement on the settlement:
While this has certainly been a difficult and painful moment for our community, it has yielded important, and in some instances long overdue, reforms to policing practices, policies, and oversight
Gittes said their main goal was an injunction to protect anyone involved in future protests.
“This injunction will protect — it limits the use of chemical weapons and various kinds of non-lethal weapons which again I stress they call them non-lethal — but they are capable of killing people,” he said.
Chief Elaine Bryant sent an email to members of the division regarding the settlement. She wrote in part:
We have already modified our policies to reflect these changes, but you will soon receive additional guidance from our legal advisors on how this impacts your job.
I want to make it very clear that we are in this together and we will continue to be of a great service to the citizens of Columbus. This is not a reason to slow down the progress we have made.
As for the $5.75 million, Gittes said the plaintiffs agreed to have a third party to disperse that.
“According to the seriousness of the injuries, the seriousness of the impact on each individual, what they experience, and the number of them were arrested so they got false charges on the internet now, that will never go away. He will take all of those kinds of things into account, and he will divide the money,” said Gittes.
According to Gittes, the plaintiffs in this case will be available in a news conference to share their feelings about the settlement but also how all of this has impacted their lives on Friday, Dec. 10.