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Denver to pay $130K to settle police retaliation case

By meerna Jul10,2024
Denver to pay 0K to settle police retaliation case

DENVER — The city of Denver will pay $130,000 to settle two lawsuits that accused police officers of retaliating against homeless advocates for filming and criticizing police actions.

The Denver City Council on Monday approved settlements in lawsuits filed by attorneys for Regan and Bo Benson in 2023, according to a news release from the law firm Newman McNulty.

The first lawsuit alleges that Denver Police Officer John Schaal retaliated against the Bensons in August 2021 after the pair noticed a group of officers sitting in their vehicles in a private parking lot near the 800 block of South Huron Street and stopped to film them. Schaal wrote him a ticket for parking in the middle of the roadway and blocking traffic, and later demanded that Bo Benson retake his driving test.

Benson’s license was later suspended in connection with the incident, according to the complaint. A DPD internal affairs investigation later found that Schaal had violated department policy by conducting a traffic stop in retaliation for filming officers, and he was suspended for 10 days.

The second lawsuit alleges that Denver police officers retaliated against Regan Benson for criticizing the department during a virtual public meeting of the Citizens Advisory Council in September 2021.

Benson criticized police treatment of the homeless during the open portion of the meeting, when she was challenged and questioned by current Police Chief Ron Thomas, who was then head of the department. She was later barred from future meetings for making disruptive comments, according to the lawsuit.

The Bensons will receive $100,000 in settlement in the first trial and $30,000 in settlement in the second, as well as assurances that Regan Benson will not be prohibited from attending or recording advisory board meetings.

“While extremely confusing, this is a mild case of police retaliation by those sworn to defend and protect our rights,” Regan Benson said in a statement through her attorney, Andy McNulty. “They have failed yet again. I do not want to ever forget or belittle those who lost their lives or suffered physically/emotionally for eternity due to law enforcement misconduct.”

The Denver Police Department and Denver City Attorney’s Office declined to comment on the settlements.

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By meerna

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