Trump Settles With Protesters Who Said His Bodyguards Attacked Them

Donald J. Trump on Wednesday reached a settlement in a civil case brought by protesters who said they were attacked by his bodyguards in 2015, a deal that will spare the former president and his family business the prospect of two simultaneous trials in New York State court.

In a joint statement, Mr. Trump and the protesters — Efrain Galicia, Florencia Tejeda Perez, Miguel Villalobos and the estate of Johnny Hosvaldo Garcia — announced that they had reached a deal and that the case had been dismissed.

In September 2015, in the early months of Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign for the presidency, the protesters staged a demonstration outside Trump Tower during which they said the candidate’s bodyguards violently attacked them. They said Mr. Trump himself was responsible, because he had explicitly authorized the bodyguards to use force. They also sued his company, the Trump Organization, and several guards.

The case dragged on for years, through Mr. Trump’s presidency and beyond. In October 2021, Mr. Trump was questioned under oath by the protesters’ lawyers and this month, after many delays, the case was scheduled to go to trial. Because the case was civil, Mr. Trump did not face charges, but could have been subject to fines or other penalties if it had continued.

Details of the settlement, which came on the third day of jury selection and which was first reported by the Daily Beast, were not made public. The joint statement said that Mr. Trump and the protesters “all agree that the plaintiffs in the action, and all people, have a right to engage in peaceful protest on public sidewalks.”

A lawyer for the protesters, Benjamin N. Dictor, said, “The sidewalk belongs to the people, it doesn’t matter whose name is on the building. We think that today’s resolution confirms that.”

Alina Habba, a lawyer for Mr. Trump, said, “We are very pleased with this outcome and are happy to finally put this matter to rest once and for all. ”

The protesters, who were of Mexican descent, said they had been motivated by Mr. Trump’s use of racist rhetoric in the first months of his presidential campaign; two of them wore costumes meant to mimic the look of Ku Klux Klan members to drive home that point.

They said in their lawsuit that Mr. Trump’s longtime personal bodyguard, Keith Schiller, had taken one of their signs, ripped it to pieces, and then struck one of the protesters on the head. They said there had been other attacks from other, unnamed bodyguards.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers argued that Mr. Schiller had been doing his job and that it was he who had been attacked by the protesters.

Excerpts of Mr. Trump’s questioning under oath were made public in April. Asked about Mr. Schiller’s behavior on the day of the protest, Mr. Trump insisted that the bodyguard had done 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 said.

The Trump Organization is currently on trial in Manhattan after having been criminally charged last year with 17 counts of tax fraud, conspiracy, scheming to defraud and falsifying business records. Mr. Trump is not a defendant in that case and has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

On Tuesday, the first witness in the trial, Jeffrey McConney, tested positive for Covid-19, delaying the case at least until next week.

Read More: Trump Settles With Protesters Who Said His Bodyguards Attacked Them

2022-11-02 13:00:27

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