A man who says he was a bystander when he was injured after being struck by a law enforcement projectile during a celebration of the Lakers’ victory in the 2020 NBA Finals is suing Los Angeles County and the city of Los Angeles.
David Lopez’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleges constitutional rights violations and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages in the suit brought Monday.
“The misuse and disregard of protocol as well as the otherwise abhorrent conduct exhibited by the defendants … resulted in the substantial and permanently life-altering harm that was suffered by (Lopez),” the suit states.
Representatives for the City Attorney’s Office and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department did not immediately reply to requests for comment.
Lopez was walking with his girlfriend in the vicinity of Grand Avenue and Olympic Boulevard on Oct. 11, 2020, the day the Lakers won the NBA Finals over the Miami Heat, the suit states. As a happy crowd surrounded nearby Staples Center, LAPD officers and sheriff’s deputies gathered at the intersection, the suit states.
As Lopez and his girlfriend headed to their car, they heard a loud popping sound that turned out to be a high-pressured, hard 40mm sponge round that struck Lopez in the face, causing him to fall to the sidewalk in severe pain, according to the suit, which does not state whether an LAPD officer or a sheriff’s deputy fired the shot.
Lopez, hit under his right eye, suffered a laceration, orbital bone fractures, eye trauma and a brain injury, the suit states. He bled profusely and his girlfriend and others ran to help him, according to the suit.
Many people saw the incident and at least one recorded it on video, the suit states. A photo of Lopez’s injury is attached to the lawsuit.
Lopez never posed any threat to the LAPD officers or deputies and he was not taking part in the Lakers’ victory celebration, but was instead “merely lawfully walking on the sidewalk, away from officers and/or deputy sheriffs,” the suit states.
LAPD officers and sheriff’s deputies are required to follow protocols when using projectiles in that foam rounds can only be aimed at the belt line of someone who they believe is a threat to them, the suit states.
“The subsequent failure to provide timely medical treatment to plaintiff was yet another blatant disregard to officer protocol” the suit alleges. “Clearly, a medical emergency existed after plaintiff’s facial injury. Plaintiff dropped to the ground in excruciating pain and was bleeding profusely.”