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June 29, 2022
A man who was struck in the face and chest by less-lethal projectiles during Denver’s 2020 racial justice protests has sued the city and several police officers, according to a federal lawsuit filed Monday.
Gabriel Schlough participated in the protests in Denver prompted by George Floyd’s murder in May 2020. Schlough was protesting alongside others on May 31, 2020, when he was shot in the face by a Kinetic Impact Projectile, rounds often used for crowd control, according to the lawsuit filed on Monday in U.S. District Court.
Schlough said he was also serving as a protest medic, providing aid to people who were struck by projectiles, according to the lawsuit. The protests began on May 28 and continued for weeks.
Schlough said he tried to help a woman who had been sprayed with tear gas, according to the lawsuit, when he was shot in the face and chest with kinetic impact projectiles, which are also known as rubber and plastic bullets, without warning. The case accuses officers Zackary Petrick and Julie Weinhemier of firing the projectiles.
The lawsuit also names Police Chief Paul Pazen, Cmdr. Patrick Phelan and Lts. Vince Porter and J.D. Williams. Phelan authorized the use of kinetic impact projectiles throughout the 2020 racial justice protests, according to the case. Porter and Williams supervised officers in the area Schlough was shot, the complaint says.
Denver failed to properly train officers on the use of kinetic impact projectiles and on crowd control, as well as to know that less-lethal weapons can’t be used to discourage protected First Amendment activity, the complaint says.
The case also seeks to hold Denver accountable for the officers’ conduct because the city did not provide additional training to officers after the use of force against Schlough, and condemned their alleged unconstitutional conduct, according to the complaint.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: DENVER GAZETTE