Three Missouri police agencies have agreed to limit their use of tear gas as part of a settlement in a lawsuit over the protests in Ferguson.
The plaintiffs in the suit alleged that police departments had used excessive force in dealing with protests that were sometimes violent in the wake of the shooting death of Michael Brown in August and after a grand jury’s November decision not to indict the police officer who shot him, Reuters reports.
The settlement requires police to warn protestors before using tear gas and give them time to disperse, unless harm is truly imminent.
U.S. District Judge Carol Jackson dismissed the case formally on Thursday, but retained jurisdiction through 2017 to enforce the settlement terms. The settlement follows along the lines of an order Jackson entered in December.
Police are not required to warn or give time to disperse when there is an imminent threat of bodily harm to people, damage to property or if law enforcers must defend themselves.
Sometimes violent protests followed the shooting in August of Michael Brown, 18, during a confrontation with Ferguson policeman Darren Wilson and a grand jury’s decision in November not to indict Wilson.
Demonstrators had said police arrived at peaceful protests wearing riot gear and equipped with armored vehicles and used tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets to disperse crowds.
The lawsuit was brought by a coffeehouse owner, two co-founders of an area activist organization, a legal observer, a professor from Saint Louis University, and a college student.
The chiefs of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police, the St. Louis County Police and the Missouri State Highway Patrol who commanded the law enforcement response to the protests were named as defendants in the lawsuit