Kimberly Veklerov, San Francisco Chronicle, July 12, 2018
Oakland will pay $2.2 million to settle a claim by ex-Black Panther leader Elaine Brown stemming from a 2015 physical attack by City Councilwoman Desley Brooks.
The payout consists of $1.2 million in damages for Brown and $1 million for her attorneys fees. The City Council approved the settlement unanimously Tuesday without discussion. Brooks was not at the meeting.
The settlement — equivalent to the salaries of about 30 entry-level police officers — closes out more than two years of litigation against the city, which had rejected Brown’s initial request for a payment of $1 million.
Alex Katz, a spokesman for City Attorney Barbara Parker, said Oakland’s insurance won’t cover the award, so it will come from a city fund.
The confrontation happened Oct. 30, 2015, at Everett and Jones Barbeque in Jack London Square. Brooks and Brown were arguing about an affordable housing and urban farm project that Brown hoped the city would fund. Brooks opposed the request, saying the project wouldn’t do enough for Oakland’s African American community.
Brown alleged that Brooks, with balled fists, knocked her backward over a stack of folding chairs at the restaurant. Brown underwent surgery for a torn rotator cuff and filed a police report against Brooks, but prosecutors declined to charge the councilwoman.
Brown, who is 75 and led the Black Panther Party from 1974 to 1977, sued the city for negligence, emotional distress, battery and elder abuse, on the grounds that Brooks was acting in her capacity as a public official that evening.
Brooks has served on the council since 2002 and is running for re-election this fall.
In his ruling, Herbert said that Brooks had lied under oath and “exhibited no true remorse for her callous behavior.” But he said the jurors “allowed their feelings of anger and disbelief toward Ms. Brooks to unduly influence their determination of the damage amounts.”