NY proposes settlement in millions for detainees in George Floyd demonstrations

Mar 1, 2023, 3:02 PM
George Floyd demonstration...
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 01: People hold signs during a march to protest against the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody on June 1, 2020 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

(CNN) — New York has agreed to pay at least $21,500 to each of the hundreds of demonstrators at a 2020 George Floyd protest in the Bronx who were “arrested, detained, and/or subjected to force by police officers,” according to a proposed settlement filed in federal court.

The settlement, if approved, could result in the city paying out millions to approximately 320 people who were involved in demonstrations on June 4 in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx, according to an unopposed motion in the class action lawsuit filed Tuesday.

Attorneys for the protesters who sued said they believe it to be the “highest per-person settlement in a mass arrest class action lawsuit in New York City history,” they said in a release.

The demonstrations in New York were among many that erupted nationwide in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody in Minneapolis. The New York Police Department came under heavy criticism for its treatment of protesters.

The class action lawsuit, brought by five plaintiffs in October 2020, alleges that “the New York City Police Department arrested and charged the protesters without probable cause and subjected them to excessive force, as part of a planned police action involving some of the most senior members of the NYPD.”

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The police department’s policy and training for policing large-scale demonstrations have been revamped in the aftermath of the protests following Floyd’s death and a subsequent review of police actions during that time, the department said in a statement.

The protests were a “challenging moment” for police as officers themselves “were suffering under the strains of a global pandemic did their utmost to help facilitate people’s rights to peaceful expression all while addressing acts of lawlessness including wide-scale rioting, mass chaos, violence, and destruction,” the statement said

Defendants including the City of New York and former Mayor Bill de Blasio, among others, do not admit fault or liability as part of the proposed settlement agreement.

The defendants “deny any and all liability and deny that they had or have a policy, or engaged in or currently engage in a pattern or practice, that deprived persons of their rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution and laws of the United States and the State of New York,” the proposed agreement says.

The five plaintiffs who brought the case will receive an additional $21,500 each “for their efforts in bringing and maintaining this action,” according to the settlement.

An additional $2,500 will also be paid to each protester who was given a desk appearance ticket by the NYPD, since those people were “subjected to fingerprinting, photographing, and a criminal history check (resulting in an open criminal case record until dismissal), and were generally detained for at least several more hours than those who received only a Summons,” the proposed settlement states.

The proposed settlement also seeks approximately $2.5 million in legal fees.

Protesters will have six months to accept or oppose

The five plaintiffs who brought the lawsuit live in New York — four of them live in the Bronx and one lives in Brooklyn. They are between the ages of 31 and 35, plaintiff attorney Rob Rickner said.

“This historic settlement represents, in part, the damage that was done to this community,” Rickner said.

The approximately 320 protesters were identified after city officials produced “hundreds of thousands of documents, including thousands of hours of videos and audio recordings,” the proposed settlement states.

At least 18 NYPD officers and other defendants were deposed. Settlement negotiations were conducted from September to December 2022, but the court allowed both sides a few more months to finalize details, according to the proposed settlement.

While the some 320 protesters are estimated to have been arrested at the June 4, 2020, protest, Rickner told CNN that it’s still unclear how many will sign on to receive a payout.

The motion seeks court approval.

The attorneys hope a judge will move quickly to approve the unopposed settlement, Rickner said. Once approved, protesters will receive notice of the settlement terms and can accept or oppose it within a six-month period.

Payments are expected to be mailed out by the end of 2023, according to the release.

Around 90 protesters have hired their own attorneys in separate cases. Those who sustained serious injuries may elect not to join the class-action suit and instead forge ahead in their own individual lawsuits, Rickner said.

CNN has reached out to Mayor Eric Adams for comment.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

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NY proposes settlement in millions for detainees in George Floyd demonstrations