KEY POINTS

  • Balin Brake is suing Fort Wayne and the officer who fired the tear gas for rupturing his right eye
  • Brake was attending a protest in May when a tear gas canister hit his right head and injuring his right eye
  • Doctors were unable to salvage Brake's eye following an operation 

A 21-year-old Indiana resident is bent on suing the city and a police officer after rupturing an eye when he was struck by a tear gas canister during a protest in May.

Fort Wayne protester Balin Brake was attending a George Floyd gathering when he said a tear gas canister hit the right side of his head and injuring his right eye. The Indiana Tech student told The Journal Gazette he was “just off the curb” on Clinton Street when officers in riot gear approached.

A statement from Fort Wayne Police Department public information officer Sofia Rosales-Scatena on the other hand pointed out that Brake “was still in the area” when authorities told demonstrators to leave the area.

The death of George Floyd ignited massive nationwide protests against racism and police brutality in America The death of George Floyd ignited massive nationwide protests against racism and police brutality in America Photo: AFP / Johannes EISELE

“Gas was deployed in the area and the protester bent over to pick up the canister to throw it back at officers as many others were trying to do. When he bent over, another canister was deployed in the area and that canister skipped and hit the protester in the eye.

“There was no deliberate deployment of gas to any person’s head,” said Rosales-Scatena.

Brake’s mother, Rachel Simonis, told the outlet her son saw the canister “hit the ground after it him.”

Doctors were unable to salvage his eye after they were forced to remove it.” Brake’s lawsuit seeks damages for his injuries and punitive damages against the officer, among others.

His federal lawsuit, which was filed Friday at the U.S. District Court, detailed that the May 30 incident “has permanently changed his life” alongside “mounting medical bills,” said ABC News.

Brake is suing Fort Wayne and the unidentified police officer who fired the tear gas and alleged that his constitutional rights were violated. He also said police “used excessive force” during the protest near the Allen County Courthouse.

The Journal Gazette continued that two men helped Brake by carrying him over to a police car and “begged” the officer to call EMS. Simonis added to the story by saying that a couple of newscasters who were at the scene saw Brake get hit in the eye.

“Balin fell to the ground and they (police) left him laying on the ground… They just left him laying there in the street,” said Simonis.

Brake, who works as a weekend editor at a local television station, denied picking up the canister, saying that he was not wearing gloves during the protest.

“Those canisters are hot as hell. I would not try to pick them up with my bare hands. In fact, one of them hit my shoe and burned my laces off,” Brake said.