April 7 (Reuters) - The city of Denver said it will appeal a federal jury's verdict from March that awarded $14 million to a dozen activists who sued Denver police, claiming excessive force was used against peaceful protesters during racial injustice demonstrations following the death of George Floyd in 2020.
"There hasn't been a final judgment entered, but Denver City Attorney's Office has decided to pursue post-trial relief, including an appeal," the Denver City Attorney's Office said in an emailed statement on Thursday.
Floyd's death, after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for about nine minutes, sparked months of anti-racism protests and demonstrations against police brutality across the United States and other parts of the world in 2020.
"While we were not perfect in our administration and dealing with the protests, we believe that we certainly have some reasons to go back and look at a different type of decision with regards to that situation," Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, a Democrat, told Axios earlier on Thursday.
Denver had settled several civil complaints stemming from the police response to the Floyd protests, but the lawsuit from the activists was the first such case in the United States to go to trial, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which represented several of the plaintiffs. read more
"Instead of wasting time and money challenging the jury's verdict, Denver should focus on fixing its police force," an ACLU spokesperson said on Thursday after Denver's decision to appeal the verdict.
The lawsuit, filed in June 2020, led a federal judge to issue a temporary injunction barring police in Denver from using tear gas, plastic bullets, flash-bang grenades and other "less-than-lethal" force unless approved by a senior officer in response to specific acts of violence.
The lawsuit brought by Denver activists acknowledged that some protesters engaged in lawless behavior, but it said the vast majority were peaceful and accused police of engaging in heavy-handed riot-control tactics without issuing clear warnings and orders to disperse.
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