South Carolina city pays $500,000 to man whose false arrest sparked 2021 protests

Nov 3, 2023, 10:24 AM

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina city is paying a $500,000 settlement to a man whose treatment by a police officer during what turned out to be a false arrest led to days of protests.

An attorney for Travis Price said the city of Rock Hill defamed Price by suggesting he was the aggressor in a June 2021 confrontation while he checked on his brother, who was being arrested after a traffic stop. A statement from police said Price bumped an officer and was “yelling belligerently.”

But a video posted to Facebook showed an officer grabbing Price by the chest and pushing him into a nearby propane tank. The officer pinned Price down and yelled at him to fight.

“Mr. Price is a father of three and a family man whose reputation was unduly impacted following the incident by statements put out by the city of Rock Hill. He was innocent and this settlement will allow him to move forward and continue to work hard to provide for his family,” Price’s attorney Justin Bamberg said in a statement.

Charges against Price were dropped. Officer Jonathan Moreno was fired and apologized two weeks later, but was found not guilty of misdemeanor battery and assault.

Court records show he was dropped from Price’s lawsuit after the settlement with Rock Hill was reached.

Rock Hill officials didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.

The Facebook video of Price’s arrest led to days of protests in the city of 75,000 just south of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Nearly a dozen demonstrators were arrested as bottles and firecrackers were thrown and a line of officers in riot gear at one point stood outside the police station to keep people away.

Price sued to ensure that police departments don’t smear the reputations of innocent people, Bamberg said.

“We are confident that that message will be delivered loud and clear,” Bamberg said.

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South Carolina city pays $500,000 to man whose false arrest sparked 2021 protests