The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against Denver over the city’s treatment of protesters in the days after George Floyd’s death.
The lawsuit alleges Denver police, as well as officers from other jurisdictions who policed the Denver protests, violated protesters’ constitutional rights by indiscriminately using excessive force — including deploying tear gas, pepper spray, less-lethal bullets and chemical irritants — to disperse the crowds.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Black Lives Matter 5280, as well as nine named peaceful protesters who were pepper-sprayed or injured by police, and claims the police department’s tactics were used to “corral, intimidate and silence protesters.”
The lawsuit says police fired without warning on peaceful protesters and details the experiences of each of the individual plaintiffs, including Elisabeth Epps, who was struck several times by less-lethal munitions, and Zack Packard, who was hit in the head by a projectile and knocked unconscious. He suffered a fractured skull and jaw, two fractured discs and bleeding in his brain, according to the lawsuit.
“The city’s actions, while unconstitutional in any context, are even more pernicious here because the use of this dangerously excessive force specifically targeted peaceful demonstrators who assembled to protest police brutality, particularly law enforcement violence that disproportionately targets Black and brown people,” said Mark Silverstein, legal director.
The lawsuit seeks an order banning Denver law enforcement officers from using tear gas or less-lethal weapons on protesters, and also seeks damages for the plaintiffs.
The lawsuit details the impact on the injured protesters, including their injuries, nightmares and fear of police use of force.
A Denver police spokesman declined to immediately comment on the lawsuit and the city attorney’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.
This is a developing story that will be updated.