Police officers have a duty to protect the public. However, there have been multiple instances that have come to light recently when a police officer harms members of the public while in the purported overall pursuit of maintaining order. While police officers deserve our respect, if an officer acts in a negligent or reckless manner while on patrol, and that negligence or recklessness results in injuries to members of the public, the victims may be able to sue for money damages.
In September 2011, the Occupy Wall Street Movement was in its infancy. Protestors took to the streets for a variety of social justice issues, the most common issue being income inequality.
Six protestors have since sued New York City, alleging that the City improperly handled the protests. They claim that they were unnecessarily attacked by police officers with pepper spray. The former protesters claim that they were standing peacefully in the street when a police officer used pepper spray against them for no apparent reason. This episode was captured on video and this alleged police brutality propelled the movement into the international spotlight.
The officer’s police union argued that he acted out of concern for public safety and that his actions actually prevented further injuries. He has not been charged with any crime, but was found to have violated police department polices. He was docked ten vacation days, as a result.
Now, the City has agreed to pay these six protestors a total of $332,500. Each protestor will receive between $52,500 and $60,000 for the pain and suffering they experienced at the hands of city police officers.
According to the lawyers who represented the six protestors, Mark Taylor and Aymen Aboushi, the lawsuit was not simply about collecting money damages. They hope that the lawsuits will raise increased public awareness about police brutality and will pressure the New York Police Department to change some of their policies.
According to CBS News, this is not the first lawsuit filed by former Occupy Wall Street protesters. The city has reached other settlements regarding wrongful arrests of protesters. Furthermore, the owners of Zuccotti Park, where many of the protests were based, settled with claimants who alleged that a private book collection was destroyed when the park was cleared in November 2011.
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries because of the negligence or recklessness of another, please call 617-787-3700 now to speak with one of our expert Massachusetts personal injury lawyers or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.