RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond has paid more than $1.6 million to settle lawsuits stemming from the racial justice protests in 2020.
The city began settling legal claims from protesters who alleged police misconduct during the 2020 protests last year.
The Richmond City Attorney’s Office told 8News Monday that the city has spent $1,617,960.69 to settle 122 claims stemming from the 2020 protests. The city attorney’s office did not comment further on the settlements and a spokesperson for Mayor Levar Stoney did not respond to a request for comment.
Last December, 8News reported that the city paid nearly $300,000 to settle civil lawsuits from protesters who claimed police officers used chemical irritants on them while walking on the sidewalk and a federal case linked to the June 1, 2020, teargassing of protesters near the Robert E. Lee statue.
Richmond eventually settled other claims linked to the teargassing of demonstrators at the former Lee monument, including an agreement that made officer body camera footage and more materials from that day public.
The body-camera videos shed light on the Richmond Police Department’s response to rallies centered around two Confederate monuments in June 2020, when demonstrators were teargassed without warning and before the 8 p.m. curfew imposed by Stoney.
Videos reviewed by 8News show the moments before tear gas was deployed without warning on a large crowd of demonstrators around the Lee statue on June 1, 2020: officers using chemical irritants on people from close range, authorities being confronted by protesters, officers questioning the commands given to them and more.
Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Colette McEachin said the officers who responded would not face any criminal charges linked to the 2020 teargassing after her office reviewed the materials.
The officers who deployed gas, McEachin said in a release, did so after receiving a “lawful order” to use it on demonstrators from the police chief at the time, William Smith. McEachin added that there was no evidence showing any officer violated the chain of command and used gas without getting Smith’s authorization.
The total figure of the city’s payments to protesters has increased as lawsuits are settled, but more payments could come as there are more cases against Richmond linked to the 2020 protests.