LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Shoved to the ground, beaten with batons, shot at close range and unable to breathe. Those are just some of the claims in a new lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Kentucky and the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc. against the City of Louisville and the Louisville Metro Police Department for their use of force during the months-long protests against the killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.
What You Need To Know
- Lawsuit filed by ACLU of Kentucky, others against Louisville, LMPD for use of force during protests
- Lawsuit seeks monetary relief for several plaintiffs such as Rep. Attica Scott
- Also seeks injunction on LMPD's use of force for all protesters
- Lawsuit wants a court to rule tactics used by LMPD were improper
The lawsuit seeks monetary relief for several plaintiffs, including Louisville Rep. Attica Scott, who sustained injuries from LMPD during the protests as well as an injunction on LMPD’s use of force for all protesters as a whole.
The 46-page complaint lays out in vivid detail the tactics used by LMPD during the protests that took place in May and June.
"Plaintiff Corbin Smith was tear-gassed, beaten with batons, and forced to beg for his life while an officer kneeled on his neck,” the complaint reads. "Plaintiff Stevie Schauer was shoved to the ground and violently beaten by officers who saw her recording their misconduct; friends who tried to help her were shot with pepper balls.”
ACLU-KY Legal Director Corey Shapiro says the lawsuit is about making sure LMPD is not able to engage in these types of actions.
"We are suing because we are asking for accountability and we're asking for a court to stop the policies that allow the police to be using military-style tactics, military-style weapons against peaceful protesters people out there expressing their views on important issues of today including the fact that Black Lives Matter,” he said.
The lawsuit alleges people have become fearful to attend protests due to the actions of police officers on peaceful protesters.
“They're not scared because of some actions by peaceful protests but they're scared of our actions by our police,” Shapiro said. “That's not what we should be behind, we should be working tirelessly to stop that. And that's what we're doing.”
The lawsuit alleges LMPD approved of the use of tear gas, pepper bullets and flashbangs among protesters.
"Defendants Fischer, Schroeder, and Chavous have taken no action to reform LMPD’s use-of-force policies or otherwise curtail LMPD’s use of force against peaceful protesters beyond the announcement regarding central approval of tear gas usage,” the complaint reads.
The complaint not only seeks an immediate injunction on the use of the tactics being used by LMPD but wants a court to rule that the tactics used were improper.
Shapiro says a ruling in favor of them is crucial for First Amendment rights to protest and make your voice heard.
"We are in a defining moment in history right now with the movement for black lives and making clear that we need to change some of our some of our systems, and people want to be out there with their children showing them and being a part of that,” he said. “What's happening now is that people are in fear and have fear that these military-style attacks are going to be used and we can't have that happening in our city.”
With the ongoing investigation into Breonna Taylor’s killing by the Attorney General’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Shapiro says it is increasingly important a ruling in favor of peaceful protesters is reached.
“We don’t know how the investigation the Attorney General and the FBI are undertaking how those are going to turn out and how people will react, but we want to make sure they can react and they can react without fear of being subject to these military-style tactics,” he said.
A request for comment from the Jefferson County Attorney's Office went unanswered.
Protests began in Louisville May 28 after the 911 made by Breonna Taylor's boyfriend was released and have continued each night since.