Back in 2020, Eleaqia McCrae was shot in the eye and chest with rubber bullets fired by an officer sent to “de-escalate” a Black Lives Matter protest in Salem, Oregon. After filing a federal suit following the incident, a jury has awarded her over $1 million, according to The Associated Press.
McCrae sued the city and police department following the shooting, as did many who were severely injured as a result of the clash between demonstrators and officers in military gear. In Salem, reports say the officers threw tear gas at the demonstrators and other non-lethal tactics to break up the crowd. Officer Robert Johnston was the one who fired at McCrae as she was trying to leave the scene, resulting in a retinal hemorrhage, macular hole and vitreous hemorrhage.
Her attorney, Kevin Brague, said even though she underwent eye surgery, she has permanent vision loss.
More about McCrae’s case from the Statesman Journal:
Brague accused police of kettling the protesters so they could not leave then using tear gas, smoke bombs, pepper grenades, flash grenades, rubber bullets, foam-tipped munitions and batons to subdue the trapped crowd.
The police’s tactic of escalating the circumstances and confusing the crowd led to serious harm the night of May 31, she said. Brague said McCrae was shot for no other reason than engaging in her right of free speech and peaceful assembly. He said she now fears retaliation and additional harm if she protests again.
McCrae was awarded $250,000 in economic loss and $800,000 in non-economic loss, per AP News.
She also requested as a part of her suit for the city to take steps to better protect residents’ First and Fourth Amendment rights by reforming their policies of declaring emergency suppression of free speech and excessive force on crowds, particularly Black ones.