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Kansas City police reach settlement with teen pepper-sprayed at protest

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A lawsuit over a 15-year-old girl who was pepper-sprayed by a Kansas City police officer has reached a settlement.

The incident happened on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City during May 2020 protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd.

A video of the confrontation showed the girl’s father, Tarence Maddox, yelling at the police during the protest. Six officers then approach and spray him and his daughter with pepper spray.

Maddox was pulled into the street and taken into custody. One of the officers can be seen pulling the teen toward him and spraying her in the eyes from about 4 inches away, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claimed the officer was trained to use the pepper spray from farther away — not mere inches from the girl — and toward a group, not an individual.

Nearly 2 years since that video made national headlines, community activists in Kansas City said the girl, now 17 years old, is finally getting the justice she deserves.

“We are going to seek accountability for anyone who is wrong, any community member, especially those who were peacefully protesting down at the Plaza,” activist Justice Horn said.

As the two-year anniversary of the incident approaches, the Kansas City Police Department has agreed to pay the teenager $110,000 to settle a lawsuit. A judge still needs to sign off on that agreement. The minor will receive $70,000 with the other $40,000 allocated for fees and expenses, including attorney fees.

“The message that should come from this would be without a doubt, that no matter who you are, that no one is above the law,” Horn said.

FOX4 reached out to the Kansas City Police Department for a comment. They declined because a misdemeanor assault charge is still pending in the case against Officer Nicholas McQuillen.

McQuillen was indicted by a Jackson County grand jury with fourth-degree assault. He is scheduled to go to trial April 11.

FOX4 also reached out to the Fraternal Order of Police, who put their support behind McQuillen. The organization said it had no comment and referred us back to the Kansas City Police Department.

Family attorney Tom Porto spoke on behalf of the family to say they don’t want additional publicity.

Maddox dismissed his lawsuit against the police department in October.