Another protester is suing Denver and its police chief for actions taken during the 2020 racial justice protests, this time because officers threw a flash grenade at him.
Robert Dayton joined protesters on May 31 – the fourth day of the George Floyd protests in Denver – and police shot him with pepper balls, according to the federal lawsuit he filed Thursday.
As protests continued, Dayton sat in crowds near Colfax Avenue and Emerson Street, where protesters faced a line of police. Video from a news helicopter shows an officer throwing a flash grenade at the group, and it struck Dayton in the elbow and burned his eyes, the lawsuit says.
Officers gave no warning before initiating the flashbang, according to the lawsuit.
“When Mr. Dayton was hit by the flash grenade, he was not engaging in any destruction of property, committing any crime, threatening any law enforcement officer (or anyone else) or was not attempting to flee arrest,” the lawsuit states. “When Mr. Dayton was hit by the flash grenade, he was peacefully protesting.”
The lawsuit names City of Denver Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen, former Cmdr. Patrick Phelan and four unidentified officers as accused. The lawsuit states that Denver police policy failed to provide sufficient parameters for the use of flashbang grenades and did not properly train its officers to use them, causing Dayton’s injury.
“It is absolutely outrageous that Denver lets its officers use flash grenades, which they have no training or policy on, against peaceful protesters,” Dayton attorney Andy McNulty said in a press release. “It is a miracle that Mr. Dayton was not killed by the bomb that was thrown directly at him.”
“This lawsuit seeks to impose a modicum of accountability on officers who have continually brutalized protesters,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit not only seeks damages, but also asks the court to bar Denver police from using chemical agents, projectiles and flash-bangs against protesters, among other policy changes.
The lawsuit is one of many filed against the city related to police conduct during the 2020 protests. On March 25, a federal jury found that Denver violated the civil rights of 12 protesters and awarded $14 million in dollars to plaintiffs. The city also paid $1.3 million in settlements to injured protesters.