A St. Louis alderwoman who was sprayed with tear-gas in 2017 while protesting the not-guilty verdict in an officer-involved shooting is suing the City of St. Louis over the incident.
The federal lawsuit filed Tuesday by Megan Green, D-15th Ward, is the 18th challenge to the way St. Louis police officers and city authorities responded to protests after the decision in the Jason Stockley case.
“I think it’s important that those of us who were elected into office are using the privilege of our position in a variety of ways to affect change,” Green said. She had previously filed legislation at the Board of Aldermen to force the city to change its policing tactics.
The city did not immediately have a comment on Green’s lawsuit. In 2017, a judge in a separate federal case ordered the city to make changes to the way it uses chemical agents like tear gas.
Stockley, a white former St. Louis police officer, shot and killed Anthony Lamar Smith, a 24-year-old black man, following a car chase in 2011. Former Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson’s not-guilty verdict on Sept. 15, 2017, touched off days of protests.
According to the lawsuit, Green was among a group of 100 protesters who took refuge that night at Central Reform Congregation, a synagogue in the Central West End, to get away from tear gas that was being sprayed by St. Louis officers. As she was walking back to her car, Green alleged, officers in an armored vehicle sprayed her and fellow protesters without warning, in violation of a 2014 federal consent decree.
The incident, Green said, left her with respiratory issues and “made her fear future police retaliation for exerting her First Amendment rights of speech and assembly.”
Green is seeking punitive damages against the unidentified officers and the city. She said she will give any money she wins to a racial equity fund recommended by the Ferguson Commission that the city has yet to establish.
“If we can not only change our laws and policies as a result of this, but also be providing the funding to start to address racial inequity in our city in a way that actually puts resources behind it, I think that is progress on a lot of levels,” she said.
Green is running for president of the Board of Aldermen in March but said the suit isn’t an attempt to bring attention to her campaign. Green’s attorney, Javad Khalaezi, said he wanted to wait until the city could no longer file charges against protesters who were arrested.
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