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Suit Filed Against DC Police Alleging False Arrest & Use of Excessive Force

By: Allan M. Siegel

On January 20, 2017 there were several ongoing protests during President Trump’s inauguration. A minority of these protesters engaged in property destruction, such as smashing windows and setting fires. After surrounding a large group of protesters and keeping them at the intersection of 12th and L street, NW, DC police arrested over 217 protesters, charging them with the felony of rioting. This charge carries up to a 10 year sentence in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Prosecutors justify the felony charges, citing to the estimated amount of property damage.

DC Police Brutality LawyerThe same day, a complaint was filed on behalf of the arrested protesters, alleging false arrest and the use of excessive force. A defense attorney from Colorado filed the suit on behalf of himself and the other protesters. The complaint states that none of the plaintiffs attempted or contributed to the property destruction cited by the Prosecutors or broke the law in any way that would justify the arrests and subsequent charges, and that they were peacefully protesting. It further alleges the use of chemical irritants, batons, and deployment of flash-bang grenades against the plaintiffs constituted excessive force. Initially, DC police representatives denied the use of such devices, but they now say they are investigating reports from witnesses. The witnesses noted include legal observers and Washington Post reporters.

Peaceful protest is a fundamental right. While the incident above is still under investigation, such a story is not an uncommon one in DC. As the Washington Post reported, it wasn’t until last April that DC and federal authorities settled the final lawsuit filed by protesters who were arrested in Pershing Park in 2002, bringing the final payout to arrestees caught by a ‘trap and detain’ policy to $13.25 million. If you or a loved one believe that you have been unlawfully detained or a victim of excessive force by a police officer, please call our firm as soon as possible to discuss your options with one of our experienced attorneys.