An Indiana man who lost an eye after being struck by a police tear gas canister during George Floyd protests is suing the city of Fort Wayne and an unidentified cop — saying the injury “permanently changed his life.”
Police previously claimed that Balin Brake, 21, had ignored orders to leave the May 30 protest and was injured when he tried to pick up a canister to fire back at officers.
But in a federal lawsuit filed Friday, Blake insisted he was “peacefully protesting with his hands in the air” when officers “indiscriminately” fired tear gas “directly into the crowd of peaceful protestors.”
After a first canister hit his foot — and “disintegrated his shoelaces and burned part of his shoe” — a second canister hit him “directly in his right eye,” his lawsuit claimed.
“The impact threw him to the ground where he stayed, coughing from the tear gas and hunched over in pain,” said the complaint, filed in the Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne Division, by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and a Chicago law firm.
The suit added that “the force of the impact fractured Mr. Brake’s facial bones in four places, caused two facial lacerations, cut a nerve in his face, and ruptured the globe of Mr. Brake’s right eye,” which had to be removed.
“The loss of Mr. Brake’s right eye has permanently changed his life. He experiences severe headaches, and often feels pain where his eye once was,” the lawsuit said, saying he was also forced to quit his part-time job as a local newspaper editor and drop out of Indiana Tech University.
In addition to the city of Fort Wayne, an officer only identified as John Doe is listed as a defendant for allegedly using excessive force and violating Brake’s constitutional rights.
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