A woman is suing the city of Los Angeles and LAPD Chief Michel Moore, alleging both are liable for injuries she suffered after officers allegedly shot her in the face with a rubber bullet near Staples Center while she was celebrating the Lakers’ victory in the 2020 NBA Finals.
Erika Miguel’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleges civil rights violations, assault and battery, false arrest and imprisonment, negligence and both intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. She seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages in the suit brought Monday.
“The LAPD was on notice that its practice of shooting less-lethal weapons at peaceful individuals had caused numerous severe injuries to the face and other vital areas,” the suit states.
A representative for the City Attorney’s Office could not be immediately reached.
Miguel, 31, went to the Lakers’ NBA Finals championship celebration at the Staples Center on Oct. 11, 2020, with a male companion to exercise their First Amendment rights with other fans when they were intercepted by LAPD officers in riot gear, the suit states. Miguel, her companion and other Laker fans complied with the officers’ order to walk away from the Staples Center and L.A. Live.
Miguel stopped to buy a hot dog from a vendor and, without warning, an officer “recklessly and inhumanely” shot her with a rubber bullet on one side of her face and the impact caused her to fall to the ground, according to the suit.
“While on the ground, plaintiff immediately felt excruciating pain throughout the side of her face and head, intense ringing in her ear and felt blood dripping out of her ear,” the suit states.
While in shock and disoriented from the pain, Miguel heard officers yelling for people to get down on the ground to be arrested as the officers continued randomly shooting less-lethal projectiles into the crowd, the suit states. Miguel complied and sat on the ground, but pleaded, “I need help, help me, I got shot.”
The officers responded by telling Miguel to be seated, according to the suit.
An LAPD supervisor later called an ambulance, which took half an hour to arrive and she was not given first aid in the interim, the suit states. She was diagnosed with a concussion, swelling and contusions and was kept overnight.
Miguel continues to suffer physical pain, severe emotional distress, anguish and humiliation, the suit states.