San Francisco has agreed to pay $20,000 to the 21-year-old student who sued the city late last year after being allegedly beaten by three plainclothes police officers in 2013 for riding his bike on the sidewalk. Video of the event went viral on the internet at the time and sparked protests against police brutality.
“The settlement was for $20,000,” said Andrea Guzman, a spokesperson for the city attorney’s office. “The only thing I can add was we were able to settle before either side incurred significant legal expenses.”
DeWitt Lacy, the attorney representing D’Paris “DJ” Williams in his lawsuit against the city, said the settlement was made “sometime in June” and that the city paid for medical bills in addition to the $20,000 settlement.
“A lot of it is medical costs we’re taking care of, so the $20,000 figure is misleading,” Lacy said. “He had a pretty substantial medical bill from not only the ambulance that took him to the hospital but also the treatment he received, and that was all taken care of by city.”
The suit by Williams, then 20 years old, alleged wrongful detention and excessive force, while the city alleged that Williams had bitten one of the officers during the arrest, according to Lacy. He said that this was false, but that “none of that justifies the officers grabbing him and throwing him out of his house and beating him beforehand.”
The incident occurred on November 15th, 2013 — a Friday afternoon when Williams was returning from attending the “Batkid” events downtown. He was riding his bicycle on the sidewalk in front of Valencia Gardens when plainclothes officers confronted him near his front door.
The officers told him to stop. William’s sister Christina told Mission Local at the time that Williams went into her apartment with the bike and that officers then “yanked” and “dragged” him out of the house before “slamm[ing] him to the ground.”
Police spokesperson Officer Gordon Shyy said at the time that the plainclothes officers identified themselves to Williams and tried to stop and cite the young man for the traffic violation, at which point he ignored their commands and continued to a Valencia Gardens apartment. Shyy described Williams as resistant and combative.
He was arrested for resisting arrest, assault, and riding his bike on the sidewalk, but was released the following Tuesday with all charges dropped.
During the arrest, residents of Valencia Gardens encircled the police and “formed a hostile crowd,” according to Shyy. Police then called for backup and a melee broke out between officers and those present, resulting in four arrests and injuries to two men as well as two police officers.
Williams was represented by the Law Offices of John Burris, the same firm that representing the family of Alex Nieto after his slaying by police officers in 2014.
Lacy, Williams’s lawyer, added today that the $20,000 settlement covered legal fees and that he would have gone to trial but Williams was “satisfied” with the settlement offered to him.
“I’m happy when my clients are happy,” he said. “I am a very veracious advocate for my clients, and I would have been happy to take this matter to trial.”