Lawlessness was rewarded in St. Louis as police protesters began lining up to collect from a more than $5 million “kettling” settlement.
A now more than decade-old police officer involved shooting death led to dozens taking home an average of $43,000 after failing to heed disbursal instructions. After originally proposing the settlement for $5.2 million in January, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the process of handing out checks rewarding civil unrest began Friday.
The sum of $4.9 million was set to be divided among 84 plaintiffs named in the class action lawsuit that had been filed following the 2017 protests of the acquittal of former police officer Jason Stockley, with three individuals claiming the remainder at $85,000 a piece.
In what would become an all-too-familiar scene throughout the country in 2020, in Sept. 2017 Black Lives Matter protests took to the streets of St. Louis after Judge Timothy Wilson had cleared Stockley of first-degree murder charges of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011.
“It feels like a burden has been lifted, but the burden of having to kill someone never really lifts,” the former officer said at the time. “The taking of someone’s life is the most significant thing one can do, and it’s not done lightly.”
— BizPac Review (@BIZPACReview) September 18, 2017
When violent protesters took to the streets, officers donned riot gear and, having had their orders to disburse ignored, began “kettling” or surrounding the crowd in such a way as to prevent their escape and facilitate the mass arrests.
“The sound of the batons. There were officers lining wall to wall,” recounted Nicole Warrington to KDSK. “The batons were just beating, and the officers were all saying in unison, ‘Move back. Move back.’ I think I will always remember the sound of all of those batons hitting the ground. They were pushing us all into the center of the intersection, so there’s no way to get out.”
Including attorney fees, the payouts were expected to range from between $28,000 and $150,000 for the plaintiffs who were surprised themselves to be receiving the large handouts. “I thought it was a scam or something,” said Dekita Roberts to the Dispatch. “It was just a shock and a surprise.”
Attorney Javad Khazaeli had maintained confidence in the case and explained to KDSK, “Once we saw the videos, we knew that what the police did was wrong.”
According to the lawyer, the case had begun as 12 separate lawsuits with 14 plaintiffs before it grew into the class action case. Earlier this year, Philadelphia had reached a similar settlement with BLM protesters from 2020 related to “physical and emotional injuries” accrued during their own failure to abide by the law.
— American Wire News (@americanwire_) March 21, 2023
The city of St. Louis maintained that their settlement was not an admission of wrongdoing and said in their own statement, “Neither this Settlement Agreement, nor any of its terms and provisions, nor any of the negotiations connected with it, shall be construed as an admission or concession by the Defendant City, or any current, former, or future employee, agent, or officer of Defendant City, of any legal violations, any legal requirements, or any failure to comply with any applicable law.”
Distribution of checks for the settlement brought the sum total of payouts from the city to over $10 million in connection with the protests as the Columbia Missourian noted a $5 million payment to a black undercover officer, Luther Hall, who had been assaulted by his fellow cops during the riots.
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