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Fort Wayne man who lost eye to tear gas canister sues police department

Balin Brake, 21, of Fort Wayne who lost an eye after being struck by a tear gas canister fired by police in Indiana during a May protest over George Floyd’s death is suing the city and a police officer.

Posted: Oct 5, 2020 10:23 AM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — A man who lost an eye after being struck by a tear gas canister fired by police in Indiana during a May protest over George Floyd’s death is suing the city and a police officer.

Balin Brake, 21, of Fort Wayne, contends in a federal lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court that the injury “has permanently changed his life” and led to mounting medical bills.

He is suing the city of Fort Wayne and the unidentified officer who fired the canister, alleging his constitutional rights were violated and that police used excessive force during protests in the city’s downtown.

City of Fort Wayne spokesman John Perlich declined to comment on the pending litigation.

It stems from a May 30 protest where hundreds of people gathered near the Allen County Courthouse to protest George Floyd’s death after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on the handcuffed Black man’s neck for several minutes.

According to the complaint filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and a Chicago law firm, Brake was peacefully protesting when a Fort Wayne Police Department officer fired a tear gas canister that struck him in his right eye, rupturing it.

Doctors at a local hospital were forced to remove Brake’s eye, according to the suit, which seeks damages for Brake’s injuries, punitive damages against the officer and a judge’s order declaring that the city violated Brake’s First and Fourth Amendment rights.

“The right to protest is fundamental to our democracy and no one should face tear-gassing and injury while exercising that right,” said Jane Henegar, executive director at the ACLU of Indiana.

Fort Wayne police said in a May 31 statement that a protester had stayed in the area following police commands for them to clear out.

When tear gas was used that protester bent over to pick up a canister to throw back at police, according to the state from police spokeswoman Sofia Rosales-Scatena.

“When he bent over, another canister was deployed in the area and that canister skipped and hit the protester in the eye,” Rosales-Scatena wrote. “There was no deliberate deployment of gas to any person’s head.”

Brake has denied reaching for a canister to throw and said he didn’t hear warnings to leave.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 749097

Reported Deaths: 13745
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1030271775
Lake554211006
Allen41613691
St. Joseph36933564
Hamilton36505416
Elkhart29347459
Tippecanoe22849225
Vanderburgh22540400
Porter19313325
Johnson18386387
Hendricks17583317
Clark13190193
Madison13111344
Vigo12602253
LaPorte12385221
Monroe12152175
Delaware10947197
Howard10250225
Kosciusko9609119
Hancock8541144
Bartholomew8158157
Warrick7854156
Floyd7763180
Grant7227179
Wayne7154201
Boone6911103
Morgan6735141
Dubois6211118
Marshall6205116
Cass5989108
Henry5893108
Dearborn588878
Noble579786
Jackson508374
Shelby500697
Lawrence4727121
Gibson444093
Harrison440473
Clinton439855
DeKalb438585
Montgomery433890
Whitley405642
Huntington402181
Steuben398659
Miami392568
Jasper386254
Knox375690
Putnam371860
Wabash360583
Ripley346470
Adams344955
Jefferson335685
White329753
Daviess3028100
Wells294881
Decatur289992
Greene286385
Fayette284664
Posey273735
LaGrange272872
Scott269855
Clay265448
Randolph244683
Washington244534
Jennings235149
Spencer234131
Starke227558
Fountain218347
Sullivan213943
Owen210858
Fulton201542
Jay200832
Carroll193420
Orange188055
Perry186937
Rush175626
Vermillion173544
Franklin170135
Tipton165746
Parke148916
Pike137934
Blackford136032
Pulaski120047
Newton112636
Brown103943
Crawford102316
Benton100814
Martin91415
Warren83515
Switzerland8098
Union72810
Ohio57811
Unassigned0421

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1107047

Reported Deaths: 20091
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1284921459
Cuyahoga1155972204
Hamilton812991245
Montgomery524821040
Summit48339999
Lucas43303817
Butler38901603
Stark33286929
Lorain25641502
Warren24557303
Mahoning22330601
Lake21135385
Clermont20097252
Delaware18817135
Licking16645222
Fairfield16561204
Trumbull16522479
Medina15593270
Greene15252246
Clark14219306
Wood13280197
Portage13226214
Allen11905239
Richland11598211
Miami10835223
Wayne9116222
Columbiana9020230
Muskingum8889135
Pickaway8649122
Marion8635138
Tuscarawas8633247
Erie8052164
Ashtabula7137179
Hancock6996131
Ross6933161
Geauga6832150
Scioto6528104
Belmont6149174
Union583849
Lawrence5722102
Jefferson5669158
Huron5539122
Sandusky5436125
Darke5415129
Seneca5343126
Washington5308109
Athens523360
Auglaize501587
Mercer487385
Shelby476195
Knox4567112
Madison443765
Ashland435197
Putnam4333103
Fulton431871
Defiance431798
Crawford4033110
Brown401961
Logan387277
Preble3847103
Clinton378466
Ottawa372681
Highland359265
Williams347578
Champaign343658
Guernsey324153
Jackson317354
Perry297150
Morrow291340
Fayette285450
Hardin274865
Henry273267
Holmes2698101
Coshocton268359
Van Wert247264
Adams242856
Pike242735
Gallia240450
Wyandot234556
Hocking220162
Carroll196748
Paulding176342
Meigs148240
Monroe136144
Noble135839
Harrison113638
Morgan109624
Vinton85417
Unassigned03
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