A man who is wearing a hat that says "native land" is speaking into a small bull horn

Antioch Settles Reporter’s Civil Rights Lawsuit for $150,000

A man who is wearing a hat that says "native land" is speaking into a small bull horn

Frank Sterling Jr., protesting outside A.F. Bray Courthouse in Martinez in 2023, sued Antioch for allegedly using excessive force in an allegedly unlawful arrest. The suit has been settled. (Harika Maddala / Bay City News / Catchlight Local)

By Aly Brown
Bay City News

The city of Antioch will pay $150,000 to settle a lawsuit by a KPFA reporter who complained that Antioch police unlawfully arrested him while he was covering a 2021 demonstration and used excessive force by utilizing a Taser against him.

City Attorney Thomas Lloyd Smith said the settlement with Frank Sterling was approved in a closed session of the City Council on Tuesday.

Sterling said he was covering a demonstration outside the public retirement party of former APD Chief Tammany Brooks and was recording the arrest of a protester when he bumped into officers, who tackled him to the ground.

“These officers dragged Sterling in the grass while more piled on top of him, using force in a manner that suggested they intended to harm him rather than serve any legitimate law enforcement purpose,” according to his lawsuit. “While Sterling was on the ground and under the control of multiple officers, another officer tasered him twice.”

Sterling, who has covered APD misconduct for public radio station KPFA in Berkeley, further alleged that the officers’ actions suggested he was being targeted for his journalism.

City officials did not respond to requests for comment on the lawsuit.

The APD has been at the center of a growing number of lawsuits following a joint investigation by the Contra Costa County District Attorney and the FBI that uncovered racist and homophobic text messages among APD officers.

The council vote for the settlement was 4-1, with council member Michael Barbanica opposed.

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