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City of Toledo, police officers sued by injured protesters

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More than 20 plaintiffs claim they were peacefully protesting, but were hit with rubber and wooden bullets.

TOLEDO, Ohio — More than 20 people are suing the City of Toledo and dozens of its police officers after they say they were injured by police during last summer’s protests downtown following the murder of George Floyd.

A civil rights lawsuit was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Toledo. The defendants are listed as the City of Toledo, Deputy Police Chief Michael Troendle, Officer Robert Orwig and 35 unnamed officers.

The 23 plaintiffs, ages 16 to 45, claim their civil rights were violated and Toledo Police used excessive force against them, causing significant injuries. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs were exercising their First Amendment rights, were peaceful protesters and posed no threat to police.

At times during the protest, officers deployed wooden and rubber bullets, and tear gas. Among the injuries sustained by the plaintiffs were broken bones, wounds requiring stitches, and blindness.

A city spokesman declined to comment on the lawsuit, saying the city does not comment on pending litigation. A Toledo Police spokeswoman referred comment to the city law department, citing the same reason.

The lawsuit includes several examples of alleged excessive force. 

Saray Pratt, 29, was protesting at the intersection of 17th and Adams streets. According to the suit, she did not pose a threat to anyone when she was shot around 6:30 p.m. by a Toledo Police officer.

The suit says Officer Orwig emerged from the top of a SWAT vehicle and purposely fired a wooden bullet into her leg. She suffered four fractures to her tibia.

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Katey David, 29, was volunteering as a medic offering free first aid to people in need during the protest. According to the lawsuit, she was rendering aid to someone in a grassy area when an unnamed officer fired a wooden bullet, striking David on the back of the head.

She sustained a severe cut which required medical attention. When she asked the officer for assistance with her injury, the officer refused and cursed at her, according to the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs are represented by Johnson and Associates of Toledo.

Several hundred people gathered downtown May 30 last year to protest police brutality in the aftermath of Floyd’s murder at the hands of police in Minneapolis. Similar protests popped up around the country. 

Following last year’s protests, Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz expressed concern with many images and videos on social media appearing to show peaceful protesters injured during the protest. City leaders eventually apologized.

The city reviewed hundreds of pictures and videos submitted by citizens and suspended three officers for their actions during the demonstration.

This story will be updated.


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