A Black Lives Matter protester whose testicle exploded to pieces after being shot by a Los Angeles police officer with a rigid foam projectile during demonstrations last summer filed a lawsuit on Monday.
Ben Montemayor, now 29, named the city and LAPD chief Michael Moore as defendants in the lawsuit, citing the department’s Use of Force Review Board findings that determined the officer was in policy when Montemayor was shot during protests in Hollywood in June.
Montemayor is demanding unspecified monetary damages in the lawsuit, but he told the Los Angeles Times that he hopes the case will hold the LAPD accountable and protect future protesters from the dangers of the projectiles.
‘They are being used irresponsibly. They’re overused, ”he said. “I don’t want them to be downplayed.”
Bodycam footage taken during a Black Lives Matter protest in Los Angeles on June 20 showed the moment a police officer fired a foam bullet into an activist’s groin. Ben Montemayor, now 29, named the city and LAPD chief Michael Moore as defendants in the lawsuit he filed
Ben Montemayor, now 29, named the city and LAPD chief Michael Moore (pictured) as defendants in the lawsuit he filed
At the time of the incident, Montemayor had been holding a sign calling for the division to be closed as agents approached.
The lawsuit alleges that Montemayor had not heard the dispersal order, but while walking in the general direction of where he believed officers wanted to let him go, two rushed him and tore his plate before pushing him back.
With Mr. Montemayor standing there unarmed, not resisting arrest, posing no threat to anyone around him, and having just been pushed by force, a third officer less than ten feet away aimed his green. [40-millimeter] launcher at Mr. Montemayor and intentionally shot him in the groin with a high-speed plastic, rigid foam projectile, ” the lawsuit alleges.
Show body-cam images Montemayor is shot by a 40mm foam gun along Hollywood Boulevard on June 20.
The lawsuit states that both Montemayor’s testicles immediately swelled, with the right one becoming the size of a grapefruit.
Footage shows the man standing in the middle of a pedestrian crossing with his arms in the air while holding a banner. Montemayor would be shot shortly afterwards
A scrotal ultrasound was performed by doctors who quickly determined that the man needed emergency surgery – which involved “ reassembling parts of his testicle that had exploded, ” the lawsuit said.
Montemayor claims he has continued to suffer from emotional distress and trauma since the shooting. He still has “ flashbacks of being attacked ” when he sees the police and is uncomfortable protesting since the incident, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit states that Montemayor’s treatment is “a gruesome example of the unjustified police abuse and First Amendment retaliation forcibly used against peaceful protesters.”
“A civilized society cannot survive if the police are allowed to run in the street,” Dan Stormer, one of his lawyers, said in a statement Monday. “The LAPD has gotten out of hand.”
Last September, California police released bodycam footage showing the Black Lives Matter protester being shot in the groin with a foam bullet during a march in Los Angeles.
Police subsequently announced their own investigation into the shooting. The bodycam footage was released as part of the police investigation.
Police take his banner and push him off the road, before opening fire while taking a step towards them – which he said would help a friend who was pushed over
The footage showed a group of officers sent to deal with protesters gathered on a portion of Hollywood Boulevard on June 20.
In the video, agents run to an intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and another street while bottles are thrown at them, trying to clean up the activists.
Two protesters are standing on the pedestrian crossing with a banner, one of whom has raised his hands in the air.
Officers lift the banner and push the man away from the intersection with his hands up. He takes a single step towards the officers and is shot in the groin.
Montemayor told me LA Times that he was trying to help a friend who had been pushed to the ground when he was shot.
Montemayor told the LA Times he tried to help a friend who was pushed to the ground when he was shot
He said fellow protesters helped him get away from the scene, and then went to hospital when one of his testicles swelled to twice its normal size.
He was admitted for emergency surgery that lasted about three hours in an effort to preserve his ability to have children.
Montemayor described the shooting as a ‘brutal attack’ and said the video shows that ‘in some ways it’s even worse than we thought’.
He turned down the police investigation, saying the department was simply covering their own backs “to protect themselves from the coming lawsuit.”
LAPD policy states that crowd control weapons, such as foam bullets, should only be used on people more than five feet away.
The weapons cannot be fired blindly at crowds, must be used against people who pose a “clear and imminent threat,” and cannot be used in retaliation against verbal threats or for “non-compliance.”
California has seen near-ongoing protests against inequality and police brutality that began in May following George Floyd’s death (photo, protesters in LA the day before the shooting)
The shooting took place on June 20, a day after protesters took to the streets in front of Juneteenth in the US – it marked the day the last Confederate slaves learned of their freedom.