One man’s eye “exploded” and another lost several teeth after being hit by LAPD projectiles fired at people reveling after the Los Angeles Lakers NBA championship victory. A 22-year-old man was struck by a hard-foam projectile as he celebrated in downtown Los Angeles. The projectile shattered his eye socket, ripped apart his tear duct and exploded the eyeball itself, doctors said. He had to undergo extensive reconstructive surgery. Another man lost eight teeth when a projectile struck him in the mouth.
Protocols for Using Projectiles
These injuries have added to a growing list of people who have been injured by LAPD’s hard-foam and other “less-lethal” projectiles. Police believe that these weapons are effective when it comes to dispersing violent crowds. However, some of police officers’ claims that officers don’t aim these projectiles at the head or other sensitive body parts have come under scrutiny after a number of incidents over the last few months some of which have been caught on video.
Activists have been calling on the LAPD to stop using these types of weapons for crowd control and are ramping up pressure on the department to explain these serious injuries. A Los Angeles Times investigation has also found that during the mass protests over the summer, there have been examples of people suffering serious injuries ranging from head injuries and bloodied eyes to damaged testicles.
A spate of lawsuits and settlements over the continuing injury incidents in these types of situations have forced the LAPD and the city to agree to stricter protocols for how and when these projectiles are used. Current policy dictates that foam projectiles must be aimed only at the belt line of a targeted individual who poses a threat to officers’ safety. They are not to be fired randomly into crowds, at people who are running or at those who don’t pose a threat. They should never be aimed at people’s heads or necks. However, videos from large protests and demonstrations have shown repeatedly that LAPD officers break those rules, the Times reports.
Why Non-Lethal Projectiles Are Dangerous
The foam projectiles that police shoot are meant to incapacitate violent aggressors without fatally injuring them. Over the years, they’ve evolved from what we’ve called “rubber bullets” to projectiles that are designed to travel more slowly than bullets. They have blunt tips, which can cause pain, but are not intended to penetrate the body.
These projectiles come in many shapes including cylindrical wooden blocks, bullet-shaped plastic missiles tipped with foam, fabric sacks filled with metal birdshot and pepper-spray balls, which are the size of a paintball and contain the active chemical in pepper spray. However, these non-lethal projectiles have the potential to cause major injuries, as we’ve seen from the examples above. A study published in 2017 in the medical journal BMJ Open found that 3% of people hit by so-called non-lethal projectiles worldwide, died. About 15% of the 1,984 people studies suffered permanent injuries.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been struck by a projectile during a peaceful protect or has suffered serious or permanent injuries as a result of being struck by a projectile, please contact an experienced Orange County personal injury lawyer at Timothy J. Ryan & Associates who can help you explore your legal rights and options. Timothy J. Ryan helps with car accidents, wrongful death, motorcycle accidents and general personal injury. You may be able to seek compensation for medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization, cost of rehabilitation, permanent injuries, disabilities and pain and suffering.