The city of San Marcos, Texas, settled a lawsuit this week filed by four supporters of Joe Biden who said local police failed to protect them from harassment in 2020 as they rode in a Biden campaign bus.
“The intimidation we experienced on the highway that day and the threat to our safety, simply for engaging in the political process and supporting the candidate of our choosing, should never happen in this country,” said former Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis, one of the plaintiffs.
Video footage that Davis provided to CNN showed vehicles with Trump flags surrounding their bus, cutting in front of it and abruptly braking as the vehicle was traveling from San Antonio to Austin on Interstate 35. There have been no criminal charges in the incident. Davis and co-plaintiffs Eric Cervini, David Gins and Timothy Holloway alleged that police failed to live up to their responsibilities under a federal law called the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871.
Under the settlement, whose terms were shared with CNN by the plaintiffs, San Marcos is required to issue a public apology, pay a total of $175,000 to the plaintiffs and provide mandatory police training on how to properly respond to voter intimidation.
“While the City of San Marcos continues to deny many of the allegations in the lawsuit, the City of San Marcos Police Department’s response did not reflect the Department’s high standards for conduct and attention to duty,” the city said in a statement to CNN.
Noting that its police department has “committed to improving its operations,” San Marcos also said it “regrets that Mr. Cervini, Ms. Davis, Mr. Gins, and Mr. Holloway had this unfortunate experience.”
The settlement does not affect a separate lawsuit filed by the same four plaintiffs against eight people they allege were responsible for the harassment. Federal court records show that case has not been resolved.
“Unfortunately, this incident is just one example of a worrying trend of political violence that’s threatening the freeness and fairness of our elections,” said John Paredes, an attorney with Protect Democracy, one of the groups that provided legal counsel for the lawsuit. “In the event we see more of it around the 2024 election, it is critical that law enforcement understand that they have a role to play in preventing political violence, and that they can be held accountable if they fail in this duty.”
This story has been updated with a statement from the city of San Marcos.
CNN’s Piper Hudspeth Blackburn contributed to this report.