A 23-year-old filmmaker is accusing his uncle, a Los Angeles police officer, of ordering colleagues to fire projectile rounds at him after the two exchanged words at a protest downtown last summer in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
The allegations are outlined in a lawsuit announced Tuesday by Jamal Shakir against the city of L.A. and his uncle, Officer Eric Anderson. Lawyers have not released the name of the other officer allegedly involved in actually shooting the less-lethal round.
Shakir says he wasn’t close with his uncle, and hadn’t seen him for more than a year before they encountered each other in the streets of downtown L.A. on May 29, four days after Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. Shakir says it was his first time at a Black Lives Matter rally.
Minutes after joining the march from his Spring Street apartment, Shakir spotted his uncle and the two exchanged words over the officer’s role in the protest, according to the lawsuit.
In livestreamed video of the encounter, Shakir is heard telling Anderson, “Eric, our ancestors are turning over in their grave right now.”
That’s when Shakir alleges his uncle pointed his baton to direct another officer to fire a projectile at his nephew. Shakir says the first round hit his hand, knocking his cellphone to the ground, and a second round hit him in the buttocks as he bent over to pick his phone up.
Speaking at a press conference outside LAPD headquarters Tuesday, Shakir described the ordeal as “a tragedy and nothing short of a nightmare.”
“The irony of this entire story is that I spent my entire life doing everything to prevent being just another statistic of the criminal justice system, or being a victim of the police brutality,” he said.
Carl Douglas, the attorney representing Shakir, said the incident shows officers are trained to show greater allegiance to law enforcement than family.
“Bluer than blood reflects the cultural problem of the warrior mentality, and Eric Anderson is the poster child for all that is wrong with the culture of policing that permeates our society,” he said.
Douglas added that he believes “there’s no way any officer could justify” the way projectiles were used against Shakir.
Shakir’s is one of several lawsuits filed surrounding LAPD’s use of less-lethal rounds during protests, with claimants describing gruesome injuries as a result of the weapons being fired amid chaos.
On Monday, a federal judge overseeing a case brought by Black Lives Matter L.A. over LAPD’s handling of the summer protests granted a preliminary injunction on the department’s use of projectiles at demonstrations. That means their use at rallies will be restricted until the underlying court case is resolved.
In another federal lawsuit, a freelance news photographer alleges L.A. police officers repeatedly struck him with a baton then shot him with projectiles twice during a protest in the Fairfax district last summer.
During the street celebrations of the Lakers’ most recent championship that were declared an unlawful assembly, photographer Manny Barrientos says he lost a chunk of his lower lip and eight teeth when an LAPD projectile was blasted into his mouth. Another man told the Los Angeles Times his eye socket was shattered and tear duct “exploded” when he was struck with a projectile that same night.
Another protester says an LAPD projectile caused his testicle to explode into pieces, and one says two of his vertebrae were broken when a round struck him in the back. Yet another demonstrator left with debilitating injuries after taking a projectile to the head told KTLA he’d been trying to deescalate the situation.
A woman who was simply driving near last summer’s Fairfax protest filed a claim against the city seeking $10 million, alleging a foam bullet struck her in the head and left her with a fractured cheekbone and a brain injury, according to the Times.
Among the faults identified in an independent review of LAPD protest tactics commissioned by City Council was the department’s failure to adequately train officers in the use of hard-foam projectile weapons.
When asked for a response to the most recent lawsuit, LAPD said it does not comment on pending litigation.