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Fort Wayne Files Response To Lawsuit Stemming From Protests

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FILE PHOTO: Ella Abbott
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WBOI News

More than six months after Balin Brake sued the City of Fort Wayne and police over the loss of his right eye during last summer’s protests, attorneys for the city and officer involved have filed a response in the case.

Filed Monday in federal court, the city’s response denies most of the allegations Brake makes against the city and officer Justin Holmes.

Around 5 p.m. in downtown Fort Wayne on May 30, Brake was among other protestors in the area surrounding the Courthouse Green and Clinton and Main streets.

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. 

 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. 

Attorneys for the city and Homes argue that they did not violate Brakes' rights, is protected by qualified immunity, and that Brake's claims are barred under other legal rulings, according to court documents.

When Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards announced the dismissal of charges against 45 of the individuals arrested during the protests last year, 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. 

In the response to Brake's lawsuit, attorneys for the city argue their actions were reasonable under the facts and circumstances, according to court documents.
 
Balin Brake v. City of Fort Wayne, Officer Justin Holmes by Rebecca Green Knight 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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