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Trump settles lawsuit over security guards’ scuffle with protesters

The main entrance of Trump Tower in Manhattan on July 1, 2021. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)
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Former president Donald Trump settled a lawsuit Wednesday, just days ahead of the trial of a lawsuit filed by protesters who alleged they were manhandled by his security personnel outside Trump Tower in New York in 2015.

The details of the settlement have not been made public, but jury selection for a civil trial presided over by Bronx Judge Doris Gonzalez had been underway, according to court documents.

In a brief, joint statement announcing the settlement, Trump and the protesters said, “The parties all agree that the plaintiffs in the action, and all people, have a right to engage in peaceful protest on public sidewalks.”

The suit was brought by five New Yorkers of Mexican descent, led by Efrain Galicia, who alleged that Trump’s bodyguards engaged in a scuffle with them as they demonstrated outside the building on Sept. 3, 2015, over anti-Mexican comments Trump made during his presidential campaign.

The case sought punitive damages after alleging that Trump bodyguard Keith Schiller and others punched one of the men in the head while trying to grab a sign that read, “Make America Racist Again!” Schiller has previously said that he was simply trying to make space on the sidewalk and that he struck the protester only after the man grabbed him from behind.

“Plaintiffs are proud to have settled their claims and to have obtained written recognition by Donald Trump of their right to protest on the public sidewalk,” their attorney, Benjamin Dictor, told The Washington Post in a statement Thursday.

“Powerful men may put their names on buildings, but the sidewalk will always belong to the people,” Dictor added.

Trump was a defendant in the suit, being named along with the Trump Organization, his presidential campaign and several security people, according to court documents.

In 2019, Gonzalez said Trump’s testimony was “indispensable” to the trial and ordered the then-president to sit for videotaped testimony. In a 2021 deposition transcript, Trump said Schiller “did nothing wrong,” and, when asked about details of the fray, Trump said he “didn’t know about it.”

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Trump lawyer Alina Habba said in a statement, “Although we were eager to proceed to trial to demonstrate the frivolousness of this case, the parties were ultimately able to come to an amicable resolution. We are very pleased with this outcome and are happy to finally put this matter to rest once and for all.”

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The former president is involved in a handful of other legal cases, including over government documents found at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida and allegations that he tried to interfere with Georgia’s electoral count in 2020. He also faces investigations tied to the role he played ahead of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

In May, the Trump Organization and presidential inaugural committee agreed to pay D.C. $750,000 to settle a lawsuit the city had filed, alleging that the organizations had misused nonprofit funds to benefit the former president and his family.

Separately, his namesake organization, including its payroll-processing subsidiary, the Trump Payroll Corporation, is on trial in New York Supreme Court on charges of an alleged scheme to defraud, conspiracy, criminal tax fraud and falsifying business records.

Trump and three of his adult children who have served as executives at the company have not been charged personally. The criminal trial began last week and could last up to six weeks.

Shayna Jacobs in New York contributed to this report.