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NY jury awards $185,000 to four arrested during 2004 GOP convention

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[July 02, 2014]  By Joseph Ax and Nate Raymond
 NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal jury in New York awarded $185,000 on Tuesday to four men wrongfully arrested at a protest during the 2004 Republican National Convention in the first trial to emerge from a decade of civil litigation over the mass arrests.

New York City will pay the damages on behalf of two police officers who ordered that 227 people be rounded up and arrested during a march in downtown Manhattan on Aug. 31, 2004.

The verdict included $40,000 in compensatory damages for each of the men, plus $25,000 in punitive damages to be split among them against Terrence Monahan, now a deputy chief in the Bronx.

The city agreed in January to pay nearly $18 million to settle claims brought by more than 1,600 people who said they were illegally arrested and detained while protesting the convention, at which President George W. Bush was nominated for a second term.

The week-long trial centered on claims from four men who were among the 227 arrested on Aug. 31 and refused to join the January settlement.

Steven Ekberg, Howard Gale and Robert Siegel were protesters, while Andrew St. Laurent was an attorney serving as a legal observer.

U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan, who presided over the trial, ruled in 2012 that the arrests on Fulton Street were illegal.

The trial was held solely to determine the amount of money to which the four men were entitled due to the actions of two commanding officers -- Monahan and Thomas Galati, who is now the NYPD’s chief of intelligence.

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No punitive damages were awarded against Galati. Only two other individual RNC-related cases remain, according to the city's law department.

A lawyer for the plaintiffs, declined comment. Representatives for the city's law department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax. Editing by Andre Grenon)

[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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