Altercation Between Councilwoman and Former Black Panther Will Cost Oakland $3.75 Million

Oakland Councilwoman Desley Brooks has long been a combative presence on the city council. Now, her actions have may have cost the city $3.75 million.

An East Bay jury has awarded former Black Panther leader Elaine Brown $3.75 million in damages for injuries she suffered when Oakland Councilwoman Desley Brooks assaulted her during an argument at a downtown restaurant.

In its verdict Thursday, after a day of deliberations, the Alameda County Superior Court jury agreed with Brown on every disputed issue in the case: that Brooks had attacked her without justification, that Brown had never threatened her, that Brooks was acting within the scope of her employment with the city, and that the assault on the then-72-year-old woman was an act of elder abuse.

The sum could rise. The $3.75 million awarded covers only pain and suffering. The jury will consider punitive damages this month.

So why is the city, rather than Brooks herself, on the hook for the seven-figure judgement? Because the plaintiff argued that Brooks was acting in her capacity as a city employee at the time of the incident.

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