Jury Orders 8 to Pay $355,100 in Anti-Klan Rally Death
A federal jury Saturday ordered eight men who were either Ku Klux Klansmen, Nazis or policemen to pay $355,100 to the widow of one of five demonstrators shot to death in a 1979 “Death to the Klan” rally in Greensboro.
The panel, fixing the damages after a 13-week trial of a $48-million civil suit, on Friday had found the eight liable in the wrongful death of Michael Nathan, the only person killed who was not a member of the Communist Workers Party at the time of the rally. The panel rejected charges of conspiracy in the deaths but found four of the defendants liable in the beatings of Nathan and two other demonstrators.
“No dollar amount can measure the significance of what happened--what it meant to reach a major justice coming from a major injustice,” said Marty Nathan, Nathan’s widow.
The six-member jury Saturday also ordered four of the defendants to pay $38,360 to one wounded demonstrator and two of them to pay $1,500 to another wounded marcher.
Lawyers for the defendants said they will probably appeal.
The eight ordered to pay $351,500 in Nathan’s death were Eddie Dawson, a klansman who the plaintiffs claimed organized a klan-Nazi attack on the demonstrators as a Greensboro police informant; klansmen David Wayne Matthews and Jerry Paul Smith; Nazis Roland Wayne Wood and Mark Sherer; former Nazi Jack Fowler; Greensboro Police Lt. P. W. Spoon, the events commander on the day of the rally; and Greensboro Police Det. J. H. (Rooster) Cooper, who was Dawson’s control agent.
Matthews, Smith, Wood and Fowler also were ordered to pay $3,600 for an assault on Nathan, bringing the total awarded Marty Nathan to $355,100.
The jury ordered the four to pay $38,360 for an assault on Paul Bermanzohn, who was paralyzed when he was shot in the head.
Matthews and Wood were ordered to pay $1,500 for an assault on Tom Clark, who was wounded by birdshot.