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Protestor Sues City of Fort Wayne Over Protest Injuries

Ella Abbott
IPB News

A 21-year-old Fort Wayne man sued the City of Fort Wayne and an unknown police officer for an injury he sustained during the May protests that cost him his eye.

Balin Brake filed the federal lawsuit Friday and is represented by the ACLU of Indiana, according to court documents.

Brake’s injury was one of many recorded around the country during the protests in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by police in Minnesota on Memorial Day.

Alongside others protesting for increased racial justice, Brake was in downtown Fort Wayne at about 5 p.m. May 30.

Officers with the Fort Wayne Police Department’s public safety response team and the emergency services team and other units moved toward protestors, and fired tear gas into the crowd.

According to court documents, Brake was running from police when a tear gas canister struck his shoe. When he turned and looked down, another canister struck him in the right eye.

The force caused multiple facial fractures and ruptured his eyeball, resulting in the removal of his eye. 

The officer who fired the shot that struck Brake has not been identified, and named in the lawsuit as “John Doe.

According to the lawsuit, Brake suffers from lingering effects of the injury including headaches, pain and permanent changes to his depth perception and vision. 

The lawsuit alleges the violation of Brake’s First Amendment right to protest and exercise free speech, as well as the violation of his Fourth Amendment rights to protection from the use of excessive force.

Brake is seeking compensation for his injuries, punitive damages, and a finding that the city’s actions violated his rights. 

When Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards announced the dismissal of charges against 45 of the individuals arrested during the protests, she said she forwarded to the Fort Wayne Police Department for investigation five instances of what she believed to be “unreasonable force” by police officers. 

The injuring of Brake was one of those instances. 

The city declined to comment on pending litigation.


Brake v Fort Wayne - Complaint by Rebecca Green on Scribd

Rebecca manages the news at WBOI. She joined the staff in December 2017, and brought with her nearly two decades of experience in print journalism, including 15 years as an award-winning reporter for the Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne.
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