SAN JOSE, Calif. - Three years after the George Floyd protests, the City of San Jose has agreed to settle an excessive police force case for over $3 million. San Jose police fired rubber bullets into a crowd of protesters, injuring multiple people and causing one man to lose one of his eyes.
The lead attorney says the case was headed to trial next month when the city decided to settle. San Jose police declared the protest unlawful, used tear gas and fired rubber bullets towards protesters. Multiple people were hit including Michael Acosta, who had to have his eye removed after the incident.
"It was really very striking because there was basically no accountability at all for the violence that was inflicted during these protests," said Rachel Lederman, Center for Protest Law & Litigation and lead attorney for the plaintiffs.
After George Floyd was murdered in 2020 by police in Minneapolis, protesters took to the streets all over the country, including in San Jose. San Jose police declared the protest unlawful, used tear gas and fired rubber bullets towards protesters. Multiple people were hit including Michael Acosta, who had to have his eye removed after the incident.
"Not one single officer was has been disciplined. They suspended all Internal Affairs investigations into the incidents that were in litigation as a way I guess of thinking they could escape liability," Lederman said.
Police say protesters threw objects, injuring them and vandalized property, but the plaintiffs say they, in particular were not violent towards police. On Tuesday, San Jose City Council approved a settlement of $2.9 million for Acosta and 11 other plaintiffs including the NAACP will split $450,000.
"I do believe an independent police auditor needs to be given more strength, more voice, more independence from the city and from the police dept." said Rev. Jethroe Moore II, President of the San Jose Silicon Valley NAACP.
Lederman says Officer Jared Yuen was responsible for hitting Acosta in the eye with a rubber bullet.
"He was captured on video cursing at protesters, saying ‘let’s get those curse words’ and expressing eagerness to shoot them," Lederman said.
Lederman also says moving forward, she’d like to see the San Jose Police Dept. make more policy changes.
"They actually were protesting about police violence and about police impunity for racist violence. There’s a different way to deal with that than to send police to shoot them. Armed police with weapons and no accountability over the use of those weapons," Lederman said.
Within the terms of the settlement, the City of San Jose has not admitted to any wrongdoing. We reached out to San Jose Police but didn’t hear back from them and the San Jose Police Officers Association declined to comment.