A freelance news photographer who says he was unlawfully hit with batons and rubber bullets fired by Los Angeles Police Department officers during a protest against police brutality last year filed a civil rights lawsuit Tuesday against the city, its police chief and various officers.
Nick Stern alleges that while covering the May 30, 2020, protests prompted by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, unidentified LAPD officers struck him in the ribs with their batons, fired a rubber bullet at his upper thigh, and shot him with a projectile near his knee, according to the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles federal court.
An LAPD spokesman said the department does not comment on pending litigation.
Stern says the LAPD intentionally subjected him to multiple physical injuries and pain, including multiple contusions on his ribs and thigh, diminished mobility, inability to work for days, trauma and emotional distress.
The plaintiff further alleges that the city and Police Chief Michel Moore have failed to train deputies in the constitutional response to peaceful demonstrations. The department has a custom of using excessive force against peaceful protesters and suppressing and preventing efforts by the press and the general public to record the actions of law enforcement, Stern alleges in the complaint.
V. James DeSimone, who represents Stern, said his client was wearing a press credential when he was struck during the protest, which took place in the Fairfax District.
“For the Los Angeles Police Department to respond so aggressively towards an identifiable member of the press — at a time when police brutality has never been more in the spotlight and at a protest on the very subject — is unacceptable and directly violates the First Amendment to the United States Constitution,” DeSimone said.
A similar lawsuit was filed Monday by freelance videographer Nasser “Nash” Baker against Los Angeles County, its sheriff and various unidentified deputies. Baker claims he was shooting video on Sept. 13, 2020, for OnScene TV of interactions between protesters and deputies near the Lynwood hospital, where two deputies were being treated following a shooting, when an unidentified deputy rushed forward, struck him and threatened to hurt him and smash his camera.