A jury Monday awarded more than $12 million to a group of former Los Angeles police recruits who were forced out of the LAPD after suffering injuries in the department's training academy.

The verdict comes as the department struggles to attract sufficient numbers of recruits into its ranks and many young officers have quit over a salary dispute.

"It's justice," Justin Desmond, one of the five plaintiffs in the case, told the Los Angeles Times. "All I ever wanted to do was go back to my job and be a Los Angeles police officer. But they never would let me do it."

The case hinged on a move LAPD officials made in September 2009 to deal with a few recruits who had been recuperating for several months from injuries they received in the academy, said Matthew McNicholas, the attorney representing the group.