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Journalists' Ferguson-related lawsuit against St. Louis County police settled

Journalists' Ferguson-related lawsuit against St. Louis County police settled

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ST. LOUIS • Four journalists who alleged abuse during the 2014 Ferguson protests have reached a confidential settlement with the St. Louis County police, lawyers said Wednesday.

The department agreed to “adopt policy changes that will address the issues raised this lawsuit,” lawyers for both sides said in a joint statement about their agreement.

It says, in part, “The County and the Department recognize that Plaintiffs, in bringing this lawsuit, have sought reform that would benefit both the police department and the citizens that they serve.”

Under Missouri law, public bodies can make confidential settlements but must yield to open records laws.

The county police did not respond to a request to produce the settlement, referring it to lawyers.

The journalists are Ryan Devereaux of Intercept/First Look Media; Ansgar Graw, senior U.S. political correspondent for Die Welt and Welt am Sonntag; Frank Herrmann, the U.S. correspondent for a group of German regional papers; and freelancer Lukas Hermsmeier.

Their suit, filed in federal court in St. Louis in March 2015, claimed they were falsely arrested, held without probable cause and subjected to false imprisonment and battery.

Devereaux and Hermsmeier claimed they were unable to get back to their car to comply with an order to disperse while interviewing protesters and were shot with rubber bullets, handcuffed and arrested despite having their hands up and press credentials out.

Graw and Herrmann were arrested the same day after Herrmann questioned an officer about a demand to “keep moving” or face arrest.

The suit alleges that an officer tightened plastic handcuffs to “deliberately inflict pain.”

Police denied the claims in court filings.

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