Tear-gassed protesters reach settlement with Richmond police

Tear-gassing happened about 20 minutes ahead of an 8 p.m. curfew.

Image has been edited to remove profanity. In this photo taken with a drone, a large group of protesters gather around the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue near downtown Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Richmond, Va. The crowd protesting police brutality chanted "Tear it down." (AP Photo 2020)

RICHMOND, Va. – A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit filed by demonstrators who were tear-gassed by Richmond police during a protest in June 2020.

Six people who were among a crowd protesting at the former Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee monument alleged that their constitutional rights were violated and that the unleashing of chemical irritants on them amounted to assault and battery and gross negligence by the police officers. The demonstration in Richmond was part of a wave of nightly protests held around the country after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

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The Richmond Times-Dispatch quoted attorney Andrew Bodoh as saying that his clients reached an agreement with the city earlier this month. Bodoh said the agreement opens the same possibility for others who were also at the protest. He said he could not release the terms of the confidential settlement.

“With this settlement, we are now positioned to take on the claims of other protesters who were in Lee Circle at the time the police officers engaged the crowd,” Bodoh said. “We expect the city to offer fair and prompt settlements to these individuals in order to avoid the expenses of additional lawsuits against the city.”

Thousands of people, including families with children, were in the crowd on June 1, 2020. The tear-gassing happened about 20 minutes ahead of an 8 p.m. curfew.

The police department tweeted an apology nearly two hours later, describing the gassing as an “unwarranted action.” Mayor Levar Stoney and Police Chief William Smith, who resigned days later, apologized the next day and promised to discipline the officers.

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