Video evidence undermines official reports on three cases of George Floyd protesters being partially blinded by police projectiles, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
The Post researched cellphone and surveillance footage, in addition to 911 calls, witness interviews and police reports to reconstruct the three incidents. Its investigation concluded the three protesters who lost their vision in these incidents were not an “obvious threat to police.”
“In three cases where we obtained extensive images and video, those who were injured pose no obvious threat to the police,” the narrator of the video said. “In each instance, video appears to undermine official accounts of the incident.”
The three cases detailed by the Post involved protesters in Fort Wayne, Ind., Cleveland and La Mesa, Calif.
Video footage shows Balin Brake, 21, in Fort Wayne with his hands up as part of a crowd blocking an intersection before he turns to run and is hit by a gas canister.
The Fort Wayne Police Department provided the Post with a statement describing the incident, saying the protester involved “bent over to pick up the canister to throw it back at officers.” It added “another canister was deployed in the area” after he bent over, but “there was no deliberate deployment of gas to any person’s head.”
But slow motion of the video shows there was no canister visible in Brake’s reaching distance before he moves back, drops his hat and is carried by another protester. At least three other protesters are throwing or kicking canisters back at police in the video.
A spokesperson for the Fort Wayne Police Department declined to comment to The Hill, saying the incident is “in litigation.”
The incident in Cleveland involved John Sanders, 24, near the city’s Justice Center, an area police were attempting to clear. Sanders was taking pictures of the scene and walking when he was struck with a beanbag round fired from the direction of the center.
Officers from the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office were permitted to release non-lethal rounds to “prevent breaches of the Justice Center.” The rules allow officers to do so to “control a combative subject,” according to the Post.
The final incident examined involved Leslie Furcron, 59, who was shot with a projectile in La Mesa. Furcron was livestreaming after protesting and yelling at police, when she turned the camera on herself drinking from a can and throwing that can toward officers. Six seconds later she was hit.
La Mesa police issued an account following the incident, saying a beanbag round was fired about 40 yards away “toward a woman … who was observed throwing an object” at police. The account says an officer reported she was down and within 30 seconds carried by protesters and driven away.
La Mesa police are permitted to use beanbag rounds “to stop aggressive behavior which if not stopped may result in serious injury or death,” according to the newspaper.
Police in Cleveland and La Mesa told the newspaper the incidents were under investigation.
The Post determined that from May 28 to June 2, at least 12 people lost vision in one eye after being struck by police munitions, with at least eight of them losing vision in one eye on May 30. Out of the eight, six were protesters, one was a photojournalist and one was a passerby.
Most of the incidents occurred May 30, the Saturday after Floyd died in Minneapolis police custody.