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Judge: Lawsuit against Boston police who allegedly beat George Floyd protesters can proceed

The police commissioner allegedly deviated from the city’s usual response to protests and “expressly permitted officers to use batons to strike people without cause.”

Blake Nissen for the Boston Globe
On Monday, a federal judge denied a motion to dismiss a civil rights lawsuit brought by four people accusing three Boston police officers of using excessive force against them while clearing crowds during a 2020 George Floyd protest. Blake Nissen for the Boston Globe


A federal judge on Monday denied a motion to dismiss a civil rights lawsuit brought by four people who accused three Boston police officers of using excessive force against them while clearing crowds during a 2020 protest.

The lawsuit claims that officers Michael Burke, Edward Nolan, and Michael McManus violated the protesters’ civil rights when they struck them with their batons, and ran into one man — a veteran with disabilities — with a police bike. The incidents happened on May 31, 2020, when the protesters were headed home from a march at the Boston Common protesting the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis one week earlier. None of the protesters committed a crime or were arrested during the protest and were all acting peacefully when they were approached by the officers, according to the lawsuit. Their allegations are bolstered by police body camera footage that was posted online and included in the civil complaint.

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Plaintiff Justin Ackers said he was riding his moped home from the protest down Tremont Street when Burke used both hands to hit him from behind with a wooden baton, knocking him off his vehicle, according to the complaint. Later that night, Burke also allegedly struck Jasmine Huffman with his baton near the Park Street MBTA station, even though she had put her hands up when she saw officers approaching, the complaint said. Huffman said Burke knocked her to the ground, and several other police officers proceeded to step on her hands as they walked over her.

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