Three agree to settle lawsuit against Tulsa Police, attorney says

Tuesday, April 16th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ Three people who sued police officers over videotaped violence after a 1996 Ku Klux Klan rally have agreed to a $175,000 settlement, their attorney says.

Deronn and Vincent Turner, now of Denver, and Stephen Williams of Tulsa agreed to the settlement of their 1997 federal lawsuit during a conference Monday, said Tulsa attorney Richard O'Carroll.

Mayor Bill LaFortune still must approve the settlement and the City Council must determine whether the cash-strapped city has enough money to pay, Deputy City Attorney Larry Simmons said.

The Turners and Williams, who are black, filed the lawsuit about a year after the rally outside the Tulsa County Courthouse, which they had attended as spectators.

About 15 minutes after the rally _ when all the Klansmen had left _ the plaintiffs were among a crowd gathered peacefully on a sidewalk, according to the suit.

A line of about 10 mounted Tulsa police officers then rode into the crowd, using pepper spray and throwing citizens to the ground to make arrests, according to court records describing the incident, which was recorded on videotape by an amateur camera operator.

``No angry threats or interchanges can be heard on the videotape and the crowd's demeanor appears peaceful,'' the document said.

Williams was kicked in the head by police during his arrest for misdemeanor assault, the court document said. The lawsuit alleges that Williams was ``grabbed by several officers, beaten, sprayed with pepper gas and tortured.''

Vincent Turner was arrested for failing to disperse and disturbing the peace. When Deronn Turner protested the arrest, she was ``grabbed and slammed'' to the ground by an officer, the lawsuit alleges.

Williams' assault charge was dismissed in 1996 by Tulsa County Special Judge Russell Hass, who said the videotape was evidence that the charge should never have been filed.

Other criminal charges filed against the plaintiffs also were dismissed.

The settlement includes attorney's fees, which are less than half of the sum, O'Carroll said. He would not say how the money will be divided among the three.

The plaintiffs originally sued the city, former Mayor Susan Savage, Police Chief Ron Palmer and several officers. But a federal judge in 1999 dismissed the claims against all but the individual officers.

This settlement comes less than two weeks after the city settled a federal lawsuit filed by black police officers. The officers alleged they faced racial discrimination at the police department.