Salem Police are not responsible for injuries sustained by a protester after an officer shot him in the eye and chest during racial justice protests last summer, city lawyers said on Tuesday. in court files.
Eleaqia McCrae filed a federal lawsuit against the city last year after sustaining permanent eye injuries from the gunshot. In the city’s response, attorneys Gerald Warren and Jennifer Gaddis said McCrae’s injuries “if any” were caused by his own negligent conduct “in failing to disperse the area when protests were no longer peaceful” .
City spokesperson Emily DuPlessis-Enders said the city would not comment on the pending litigation.
An amended complaint, filed in May, alleged that Salem Police Officer Robert Johnston intentionally fired rubber projectiles from a 40mm launcher at black protesters using lethal force.
The original complaint was aimed at changing the policies and practices of the Salem Police Department following the protests for racial justice that took place in Salem in late May and early June.
McCrae, who is black, argues in the lawsuit that the city’s actions violated his constitutional rights to free speech.
A court record filed by McCrae’s attorney offers the following account of what happened on May 31, when Salem and cities across the country were in the midst of protests against police violence.
McCrae, a West Salem High School graduate and student-athlete at Mt. Hood Community College, attended the protest in Salem with her sister and friend, marching with protesters to the Center Street Bridge and returning to the US Capitol. State of Oregon around 9 p.m.
The trial said the crowd tied their arms and knelt on the street. At 10:03 p.m., Salem police used tear gas on the crowd because people were throwing objects at them. No serious injuries were reported to the police during the summer protests.
When McCrae got up to leave, according to the lawsuit, she was shot by police twice. One rubber bullet hit his chest and the other hit his eye. After being shot in the eye, McCrae bent over in pain and passed out, according to her complaint.
When she recovered, McCrae was taken to the emergency room for her eye, according to the complaint. She suffers from permanent vision loss and requires surgery, according to the complaint.
In response to the complaint, city attorneys argued that if McCrae was subjected to assault or bodily harm, “such action was warranted in the circumstances in which the Salem police were victims of acts of violent crowd, including the throwing of frozen water bottles with nails, glass bottles, rocks, bricks and large mortar fireworks.
The response also notes that the city has been placed under curfew due to the unrest that accompanied the protests.
The city’s response denied most of the prosecution’s allegations, including that black protesters and other people of color had been targeted or that McCrae’s First Amendment rights had been violated.
Kevin Brague, McCrae’s attorney, said the lawsuit was still in the discovery phase and he was requesting documents from the city to substantiate his case.
He said there was no reason for the city to believe McCrae was not injured during the protests.
âThat’s why we have lawsuits, there are two stories,â Brague said.