Jury awards $3.75M to protester hit by hard-foam projectiles fired by Los Angeles police in 2020

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A jury awarded $3.75 million in damages this week to a protester shot twice with hard-foam projectiles fired by Los Angeles police during demonstrations in 2020.

Jurors on Wednesday ruled that the LA Police Department was negligent when one or more of its officers fired the so-called less-lethal devices at Asim Jamal Shakir Jr., the Los Angeles Times reported.

Shakir had been filming a police skirmish line when he recognized his LAPD officer uncle among the formation and confronted him, shouting, “Our ancestors are turning over in their grave right now!” Shakir alleges that his uncle, Eric Anderson, then directed other officers to fire a hard-foam projectile at him.

Civil rights attorney Carl Douglas, who filed the suit on Shakir's behalf, said he hopes the sizable damages awarded will signal that similar acts of police violence cannot be tolerated. The award must still be approved by the City Council.

Karen Richardson, a spokesperson for the city attorney’s office, told the Times her office had no comment on the jury’s decision. The police department did not respond to an email seeking comment Friday.

At trial, the defense team sought to reconstruct the events of that day with video from a body camera and an Instagram livestream.

Shakir was struck once, then a second time while he was bending down to pick up a phone that had been knocked out of his hand by the first projectile, according to the lawsuit.

Shakir had to go to physical therapy for a year because of the injury to his hand, and he still suffers pain, his attorney said.

An internal department investigation revealed that the less-lethal force that injured Shakir was never reported, Douglas said.

The incident occurred during mass protests that rocked the nation in the wake of George Floyd’s killing at the hands of police in Minneapolis.

The city is still facing a large class-action lawsuit by Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles and other groups over its handling of the 2020 protests, according to the Times. Several other suits have already been settled.