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Injured protestor reaches settlement with the city

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FILE PHOTO: Rebecca Green
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WBOI News
Over the last weekend of May 2020, protestors and police officers from multiple agencies squared off in downtown Fort Wayne, resulting in injuries and arrests.

After suffering serious injuries during the racial justice protests in the spring of 2020, Balin Brake reached a settlement with the City of Fort Wayne.

According to federal court records, the settlement was reached earlier this year. Both sides have until late April to file a stipulated motion for dismissal.

The terms of the settlement are not available in U.S. District Court records.

Around 5 p.m. in downtown Fort Wayne on May 30, 2020, 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 alleged 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 sought compensation for his injuries, punitive damages, and a finding that the city’s actions violated his rights. 

Attorneys for the city and Homes argued 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 filed in May. attorneys for the city argue their actions were reasonable under the facts and circumstances, according to court documents.

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.