After a Baton Rouge Police officer shot and killed Alton Sterling in July, hundreds took to the city's streets in protest. Now, City Hall will pay out a few hundred dollars apiece to more than 90 protesters, including Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson, who sued the city after their arrests.
The Metro Council voted Tuesday evening to approve the settlement in the federal class-action lawsuit. The settlement, about $100,000 in total, will be borne by four agencies paying no more than $25,000 each: the city government, Louisiana State Police, the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office and the District Attorney's Office.
Parish Attorney Lea Anne Batson said the city plans to pay $230 to each of the 92 plaintiffs in the lawsuit. The rest of the money under the $25,000 cap for the city-parish will go toward bonding fees, attorney's fees and other costs, Batson said.
East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III had said his office will not prosecute Mckesson and the other protesters booked on misdemeanor counts of obstructing a highway. But the protesters' lawsuit says Mckesson and the others were still required to post substantial bail, pay administrative fees and court costs in order to be released, and that they would have to pay more to have their arrests expunged.
Settlement talks that one attorney described as "fruitful" could resolve a lawsuit Black Liv…
Their lawsuit alleges police were militarized and aggressive in their response to the protesters, and that law enforcement used "unconstitutional tactics" to infringe upon the protesters' First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and assembly.
Metro Councilman John Delgado was furious about the settlement payout, and was one of two on the 12-member body to vote against approving it.
"To me, this encourages that type of behavior to happen in the future," Delgado said. "I have no interest in paying $100,000 in taxpayer dollars to people who are coming into our city to protest."
But Batson said the price is much smaller than what the city could be paying if just one of the 92 plaintiffs could prove that they had been wrongfully arrested. The protests and arrests came after cell phone videos emerged showing a Baton Rouge Police officer shooting and killing Sterling outside a convenience store in north Baton Rouge.
Batson said fewer than 10 percent of the protesters in the class-action lawsuit were from out of town.
Attorney Roy Rodney Jr. represented Mckesson and the other plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
A Baton Rouge police officer also filed a lawsuit earlier this month against Mckesson and Black Lives Matter. The officer, who is unnamed in the lawsuit, said he lost teeth and sustained other injuries during the protests after Sterling's death.
His lawsuit against Mckesson accuses the activist of inciting violence.
A Baton Rouge police officer who lost teeth and suffered other injuries during a protest out…
In the matter of Mckesson's lawsuit against the city, Delgado and Councilman Scott Wilson voted against settling the suit and doling out $25,000 from the city-parish. Council members Chandler Loupe, Trae Welch, Chauna Banks, Erika Green, Donna Collins-Lewis, LaMont Cole, Joel Boé and Tara Wicker voted to approve it. Ryan Heck did not vote and Buddy Amoroso was absent from the meeting.