DENVER (KDVR) — Update, 7:40 p.m. According to Andy McNulty, the attorney who represents Michael Acker, the $500,000 settlement was approved.
Earlier: The Denver City Council will vote Monday night on a proposed $500,000 settlement to be paid out to a protester who was struck in the head with a 40mm projectile fired by a Denver police officer.
According to the city council agenda, members will vote on whether to authorize and approve payment from the city’s liability claims account. It would be payable to Killmer, Lane, and Newman LLP COLTAF Client Trust Account to resolve a claim filed in federal court by Michael Acker, a college student who was wearing a gas mask when he was struck.
“It really felt like somebody had just snuck up on me with the baseball bat,” Acker told the Problem Solvers in 2020, following the incident. “One minute I’m standing there and then I hear a thunk. And then, something just fills my vision. It was really weird. It was kind of like time slowed down and just cracks me over the side of the head. My ears were ringing. I can’t really get my bearings at all.”
Acker said a piece of glass was stuck in his eyelid, but a doctor helped pull it out when he was in the hospital. His eyesight ended up being ok.
“Had I not been wearing the mask, it probably would have fractured my skull and would have gone into my eye. I would have been a pirate,” he said.
Acker filed a lawsuit in 2020 against the city and county, Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen, Cpl. Daniel Felkins and Sgt. David Abeyta.
Felkins fired the shot that struck Acker, and Abeyta was present.
As of last week, according to Andrea Webber, a records administrator for the Denver Police Department, an internal investigation into the incident had not been completed.
Felkins retired in June last year, Webber said.
In the internal affairs interview, Felkins told an investigator that the crowd during the George Floyd protests was “very volatile. I was waiting for them to attack at any moment.”
During the course of the protests, Felkins said he had been struck in the helmet with a rock, and he thought Acker might have thrown it.
Acker’s attorney, Andy McNulty, denies that his client ever threw anything.
Felkins told investigators he fired shots toward Acker because he believed he was the one who launched something at him. Another woman, who was standing near Acker, threw a bottle in the direction of officers, but Acker was backing away from the police, with one hand in the air, when he was struck with the police projectile.
“It struck him in the right eye. I was not aiming for that,” Felkins said. “That’s not what I intended to do by any means.”
McNulty could not speak about the terms of the settlement prior to the city council’s vote but told the Problem Solvers he believed Acker was shot in retribution for “engaging in speech that was critical of the police department.”
McNulty said he was disappointed that officers who were involved in the incident had not yet been disciplined.
“Reform starts with accountability, and there’s been no accountability for these officers.
“Officers used deadly force against my client – shot him in the face with a 40mm round, and one officer was allowed to retire with his pension,” McNulty said.
The Problem Solvers asked Pazen for a comment about the settlement vote.
The police department declined to speak to the Problem Solvers while the internal affairs investigation continues.