Denver Police arrested her as she gave assistance to George Floyd protesters in 2020. The city is paying her $45,000 over a misconduct claim

The city has paid more than $2 million so far this year in cases dating back to the protests.
3 min. read
Natalia Marshall speaks to a crowd on the sixth day of protests in reaction to the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. June 2, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

In 2020, Rebecca Clark drove to Civic Center Park to hand out water bottles and give assistance to people protesting the murder of George Floyd. She was not there to protest herself, but Denver Police mistreated her as they did many protestors that summer, according to her lawyer Sean Simeson.

As police officers directed protesters to a certain area of the park, Simeson said, they pulled Clark over while she was stopped at a red light.

"They're giving her conflicting orders," Simeson said, referencing body camera footage from the case. "She's getting dragged out of the car, the seatbelt is still on her, so they can't get her out, and they start yanking her out from the driver's seat, and at one point, one of the officers strikes her with a baton over the neck in order to force her out of the car."

Simeson said police eventually arrested Clark. She was in jail for about a day. Charges against her were dropped, and now the city is paying Clark $45,000 in a liability claim against the police officers involved, the City and County of Denver and Denver District Attorney's Office, over claims of unconstitutional arrest and excessive use of force. City Council approved the payment Monday.

Denver Police did not respond to Denverite's request for comment.

"We're happy that we were able to achieve a settlement," Simeson said. "But on a bigger scale and zooming out and looking at things in the big picture, to me, there needs to be some very large change in the way that police departments, big police departments like Denver, handle these and then change their practices afterwards."

Simeson said that when trying cases like this, he often feels like the actual officers involved are disconnected from the case, while the city attorney's office litigates and the taxpayers end up paying the bill.

The city has paid more than $2 million in claims involving police behavior during the 2020 protests. That's on top of more than $3 million in claims involving police in 2022 and $14 million awarded to protesters in a jury trial that same year.

And those figures could rise as more cases get settled. Last week, the City of Aurora sued the City and County of Denver over which city is responsible for the cost of lawsuits involving Aurora police officers sent to Denver to respond to the protests.

Simeson said his firm alone has multiple "much higher value" cases dating back to the protests that are still making their way through the legal system.

"I see this as a systemic problem and if anything's ever going to change, there's got to be something that is different besides just forking over money from the Denver taxpayers," he said.

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