Jury awards $1.7 million to Fox camera operator hurt by LAPD
A Los Angeles County Superior Court jury on Friday awarded $1.7 million to a camera operator from Fox's KTTV-TV Channel 11 News who was knocked to the ground by police during the 2007 May Day melee in MacArthur Park.
In addition to the award to Patricia Ballaz, jurors awarded $39,000 to KPPC radio reporter Patricia Nazario but failed to agree on an award for a third plaintiff who sued police, Fox 11 reporter Christina Gonzalez, according to a spokeswoman for Ballaz's attorneys.
The lawsuit grew out of police actions at an immigration rally that grew unruly as it reached MacArthur Park. Police were widely criticized for overreacting in their efforts to put down the disorder and for targeting reporters and camera crews trying to cover it.
The Los Angeles Police Department later apologized and instituted sweeping changes in its crowd control policies.
The city had previously agreed to pay about $13 million to settle class-action claims brought by about 300 demonstrators, bystanders and some journalists who said they were mistreated during the incident. Last month, the City Council approved an additional payout of $450,000 to five other journalists.
Ballaz, Nazario and Gonzalez had claimed that physical and psychological injuries inflicted by police had led to lasting pain and post-traumatic stress disorder.
In a statement released by her lawyers, Ballaz said: "May 1, 2007 is a day that I will never forget, it is a day that has changed my life forever. My genuine hope is that this trial and its verdict will serve as a strong reminder to the LAPD to think twice about using excessive force in any kind of situation. Our free speech and civil rights are precious and if we can’t rely on the police to protect them, who can we trust?”
-- Mitchell Landsberg