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Fort Wayne protester sues city and FWPD officer after losing his eye

Posted at 9:12 AM, Oct 05, 2020

FORT WAYNE — A Fort Wayne man is suing the city and a Fort Wayne Police Department officer after losing his eye during protests over the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd in May.

Balin Brake had gathered with other protesters at the Allen County Courthouse on May 30 to peacefully demonstrate against police brutality when, according to the complaint, an FWPD officer fired a tear gas canister directly in Brake's face.

The 21-year-old's right eye completely ruptured due to the incident, and he had four fractures in his facial bone.

With the assistance of the ACLU, Brake filed the lawsuit on Friday. The lawsuit claims that excessive force was used by the unnamed FWPD officer and violated the First and Fourth Amendments when interfering with Brake's right to protest.

Brake spoke to WRTV's sister station ABC21 about what happened that day that "has permanently changed his life" and led to mounting medical bills.

"Really, my memory is vague of the actual canister," Brake said. "I remember it hitting me, and I remember falling back. That's what plays in my head over and over again when I think about it."

In addition to seeking punitive damages and attorneys fees, Brake says he wants an apology from the Mayor of Fort Wayne, Tom Henry.

"You need to come out and face your people. You need to apologize for what happened," Brake said. "I want you to look me in my eye and tell me you're sorry. I want you to look me in my eye and tell me you still stand with the police and what they did."

FWPD says the injury was unintentional and claim Brake bent over to pick up and allegedly throw the canister. Brake says that the claim is false and that he won't stop protesting until he sees change.

MORE | Protesters and Indy10 BLM sue City of Indianapolis for use of tear gas and other weapons |

MORE | ACLU sues City of Fort Wayne for use of chemical weapons on protesters |