Protestors arrested after death of Alton Sterling finally moving on after lawsuit settlement
BATON ROUGE - After the EBR Metro Council approved a $1.17 million settlement in a lawsuit tied to the arrests of 14 protesters after the death of Alton Sterling, those involved say they're glad to finally move on.
"It ended up being one of the most traumatic experiences of my life," said one protester, Blair Imani.
As protesters filled the streets from the Capitol to Government Street on July 10, 2016, police showed up in riot gear and told everyone to clear the streets. Imani and her now-husband, Akeem Ali, say they did try to leave, but moments later, they were arrested.
"No one was armed. No one was damaging property. People were just literally standing around," Ali said.
In a video taken by WBRZ, you can hear an officer talking about an arrest they're about to make, moments before tackling two people.
"... To hear that this was intentional... it scares me to my core. Many of us received death threats after this. To know we were targeted is huge," said Nadia Sandi, who claimed she's one of the protesters seen in that video.
Fourteen of the protesters arrested that day testified in federal court during a civil rights trial. Some said the responding police officers had pre-written arrest documents.
"These affidavits also say the signing officer caused the arrest, but that wasn't true for any of the arrestees. That is one of the things you can see prompted officers to plead the fifth," Attorney William Most said.
Most says police who testified admitted signatures were forged and that affidavits were written, then emailed out to all the officers hours before the protest began.
"They already knew what they wanted to arrest people for, and then they showed up with armed rifles. Those were not rubber bullets. Those were loaded guns. They showed up with riot gear, gas masks and the LRAD, which we learned wasn't even theirs," Ali said.
On Wednesday, the EBR Metro Council voted 7-4 to settle the case for $1.17 million and to end the trial.
"These mistakes were grave, bloodshed could have happened, things need to change, taking ownership, is what the settlement says," Imani said.
The money will be split between the 14 plaintiffs and their attorneys. Imani and Ali say they're glad to move forward and plan to donate part of their share.
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