By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver
(Denver, Colo.) The City and County of Denver plans to hire a dozen law firms to handle its civil lawsuits.
The city paid out $1.6 million in police settlements Monday. The lawsuits in U.S. District Court stem from police brutality claims made during the George Floyd protests in the summer of 2020. The settlements include:
Gabriel Schlough, $575,000. According to KDVR Fox 31 News, Schlough’s chin was blown off during the protests. “They started firing things into the crowd, yelling at people, flashbangs were going off — it was a warzone,” Schlough told KDVR. He said a police projectile hit him in the face.
Mercii Thomas, $500,000. According to Colorado Politics, Thomas reported being struck by a police projectile that knocked him out and caused a concussion.
Robert Dayton, $225,000. According to his lawsuit, Dayton left his Capitol Hill home May 31, 2020, to view the protests on Colfax. He said he saw police aggressively moving toward peaceful protesters and shooting projectiles. “Near the intersection of Colfax Avenue and Emerson Street, Mr. Dayton was hit multiple times by pepper balls shot by defendants John Does 1-4,” according to the lawsuit. "Dayton alleges that when he was shot with pepper balls, he was peacefully protesting: He was not engaging in any property destruction, committing any crime, threatening any law enforcement officers or other individual, or attempting to flee arrest. Defendants John Does 1-4 did not issue a warning that pepper balls would be deployed or that Dayton, specifically, should cease engaging in any conduct or risk being shot with pepper balls.”
Darrell Hampton, $175,000. According to KDVR, Hampton recorded with his cell phone police officers shooting projectiles during the protest. Hampton claimed an officer “aimed his pepper ball launcher directly at (his) face,” and then fired the weapon, according to KDVR.
Eric Weber, $135,000. Details of the case were not immediately available.
Titus Peterson, et al, $12,500. Peterson reported in his lawsuit that he was overcome with tear gas while attending a Black Lives Matter protest May 30, 2020.
A dozen law firms for civil cases
The Finance and Governance Committee of the Denver City Council will vote Tuesday to hire a dozen law firms to handle civil cases. The law firms will receive contracts of $1 million each and include:
Lambdin & Cheney
Morgan Rider Riter Tsai
Nathan, Dumm & Mayer
Overturf, McGrath & Hull
Dagner, Schluter Weber LLC
Dietze and Davis P.C.
Hall and Evans, LLC
Kissinger and Fellman, P.C.
Lasater and Martin, P.C.
Vaughn & DeMuro
Wells Anderson & Race
The full City Council also must approve the contracts for the law firms.
Almost $30 million in settlements since 2010
Since 2010, Denver has paid out about $28 million in settlements, according to a city staff report. City council member Paul Kashmann said in January he believes the City Attorneys’ Office could better spend their time than preparing for briefings to give council members. The council rubber-stamps the approvals. Never in Kashmann's many years on council can he remember the council not approving a settlement, he said. He said he has confidence in the recommendations the City Attorney’s Office makes regarding settlements.
Council member Candi CdeBaca said she believes the process for handling settlements is flawed. She said the council should have a stronger role in the settlements “and not just a signature on paper.” She said it’s important to remember “the taxpayer money we’re wasting on bad behavior or big mistakes.”
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