COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The Columbus City Attorney’s Office announced Thursday afternoon that the city has reached a settlement agreement in the Alsaada V. City of Columbus case.
The case stemmed from the 2020 riots in Columbus following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
During the protests, plaintiffs alleged that constitutional rights were violated by members of the Columbus Police Department. CPD made arrests and used pepper spray, tear gas, wooden baton rounds, and sponge rounds in response.
The city agreed to deliver a settlement of $5.75mill to the plaintiffs, pending approval from the Columbus City Council. Should City Council approve the settlement, it will be paid from the city’s general fund account.
“During the protests in Columbus, some plaintiffs were significantly injured.” said City Attorney Zach Klein. “Therefore, it’s incumbent upon the City to accept responsibility and pay restitution. Many Columbus Division of Police officers did perform their jobs professionally during that time, but this litigation highlighted serious issues that must be addressed.”
Lead plaintiff Tammy Fournier Alsaada, a community activist, was pepper-sprayed without provocation after receiving permission to walk through a line of police to discuss the arrests of some protesters, the lawsuit said. Another three plaintiffs alleged they suffered from broken bones.
In December 2020, the state adopted a policy for police handling of mass protests that requires a minimum use of force.
“We have implemented significant changes in protest response and training since last year’s protests. We recognize what a painful chapter this has been for everyone involved, including the women and men of the Columbus Division of Police and the community we serve,” said Columbus Department of Public Safety Director Robert Clark.
“Before there can be healing, there must be accountability. Where we have missed the mark and relationships have been damaged, we must strive to make it right. This settlement is a step toward that, while also protecting the interests of Columbus taxpayers.”