Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday reached a settlement with a group of protesters who filed a lawsuit alleging they were assaulted by his security guards outside of Trump Tower in 2015, lawyers for both sides said.
The attorneys did not disclose details on the terms of the settlement, which came as the case was in the middle of jury selection.
An attorney for the protesters, Benjamin Dictor, called it "an incredible day for our clients, who are lifelong activists in the community … who stood up to defend the right to speech on the public sidewalk and have litigated for seven years. And today, the matter was resolved on terms that they are very, very happy with.”
In a joint statement provided by Dictor and signed by the plaintiffs and Trump’s attorney, Alina Habba, the parties agreed they have settled the case and will dismiss it. They also agreed "that the plaintiffs in the action, and all people, have a right to engage in peaceful protest on public sidewalks,” the statement said.
Habba said in a separate statement, “Although we were eager to proceed to trial to demonstrate the frivolousness of this case, the parties were ultimately able to come to an amicable resolution. We are very pleased with this outcome and are happy to finally put this matter to rest once and for all.”
The suit stems from an incident in September 2015, when a group protesting then-candidate Trump’s comments about Mexican immigrants allege Trump’s security guards assaulted them on the sidewalk outside Trump’s Fifth Avenue building. The suit charges that Trump’s head of security punched one of the protesters in the head while trying to wrest away his “Make America racist again” sign.
The protesters sued Trump, his company, his campaign and the guards in the incident, alleging they had disrupted their “peaceful and lawful assembly.”
In a February 2016 affidavit, Trump said he shouldn’t have to be deposed because he didn’t know anything about the skirmish and hadn’t been involved in hiring security.
“Given the breadth and scope of the business, I have delegated full responsibility and authority for the hiring and supervision of all security personnel and related security operations to Matthew Calamari,” the Trump Organization’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, Trump said.
Attorneys for the protesters contended that Trump was responsible for his employees’ actions, and the judge ordered Trump to sit for a deposition, saying his testimony was “indispensable.”
Trump sat for a videotaped deposition in October of last year that was going to be used as his trial testimony in the case. In the deposition, parts of which were made public in a court filing, Trump said he “didn’t know about” the altercation between his then-bodyguard Keith Schiller and the protesters until the day after it happened.
Trump defended Schiller’s actions, according to the transcript.
“He did nothing wrong. He went out — I didn’t know about it. But he went out, he heard there was a disturbance, and he went out. And he took a 50 cent sign down that was racist. He sees people dressed as Ku Klux Klansmen or whatever. People were probably complaining,” Trump said.
Trump’s testimony that he was in the dark about what his security officers were doing was disputed by his former lawyer Michael Cohen during his own videotaped deposition earlier this year. Cohen testified in May that he witnessed Trump direct Schiller to “get rid of” the protesters, and that Schiller later returned to Trump’s office with a sign he had taken from them, court filings show. That testimony was also going to be played for the jury in the now-canceled trial.
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