WASHINGTON (CN) – A federal judge on Monday kept alive several claims brought by a group of protesters in Washington who were beaten in May 2017 by security officials and supporters of Turkish President Recep Erdogan during his visit with President Donald Trump.
The group of 15 people filed suit in 2018 against the Republic of Turkey and a group of people who they say attacked and beat them as they protested outside of the Turkish ambassador’s residence in May 2017.
The attack, video of which quickly circulated online, resulted in an indictment of 19 people, including 15 Turkish security officers. According to the complaint, the protesters endured multiple rounds of beatings from the pro-Erdogan group, who also shouted profanities and threatened the protesters during the tense day.
In addition to the Turkish government, the complaint names five people, four of whom were indicted. The protesters seek damages from the people named in the suit on claims of hate crimes, intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault, battery and civil rights violations.
Three people accused of participating in the attacks – Eyup Yildirim, Alpkenan Dereci and Sinan Narin – sought to dismiss the claims against them on the grounds that the protesters had not claimed facts strong enough to support the suit. Yildrim and Narin, both U.S. citizens, have pleaded guilty to the charges, while Dereci was never charged.
In a 41-page opinion Monday, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled the individuals will not have to face the battery and civil rights claims, or the intentional infliction of emotional distress as applied to one of the protesters. But she allowed the assault and hate crime charges, as well as most of the intentional infliction of emotional distress claims, to go forward.
“Plaintiffs have alleged that each defendant twice pushed past the police to beat and attack plaintiffs,” Kollar-Kotelly wrote.
While she kept several of the claims alive, Kollar-Kotelly found the protesters had not done enough to show that any of the men were part of a conspiracy to commit battery. She also tossed aside the civil rights claims because the protesters did not “sufficiently allege the existence of a conspiracy to violate plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights.”
Cathy Hinger, an attorney with the Washington, D.C., firm Womble Bond Dickinson who represents the three men, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.