LOS ANGELES, July 3 (UPI) -- A jury has awarded $1.7 million to a news crew camera operator who police knocked to the ground during a melee in a Los Angles park.
The award to Patricia Ballaz of KTTV-TV, Los Angeles, stems from a lawsuit against the police department over its response to the 2007 May Day melee in MacArthur Park, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The jury also awarded $39,000 to KPPC radio reporter Patricia Nazario but did not agree on an award for a third plaintiff, KTTV reporter Christina Gonzalez, a spokesman for Ballaz's attorneys told the Times.
All three claimed physical and psychological injuries caused by police led to prolonged pain and post-traumatic stress disorder.
"My genuine hope is that this trial and its verdict will serve as a strong reminder to the LAPD to think twice about using excessive force in any kind of situation," Ballaz said. "Our free speech and civil rights are precious and if we can't rely on the police to protect them, who can we trust?"
Police have been harshly criticized for overreacting to the May Day immigration rally and targeting reporters and camera crews covering it.
The police department has apologized and made major changes in crowd-control policies.
Los Angeles had already agreed to pay about $13 million to settle class-action claims filed by about 300 demonstrators, bystanders and some journalists.
The City Council last month approved a payment of $450,000 to five other journalists.