Suit claiming Mpls. police targeted journalist can proceed

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Alex Chhith, Star Tribune
·2 min read
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A judge on Monday allowed a lawsuit brought by a photojournalist who was blinded in one eye while covering the George Floyd protests to proceed.

In his decision denying dismissal of the case, U.S. District Chief Judge John Tunheim called the experiences and injuries of journalist Linda Tirado "serious and troubling."

Former police union leader Lt. Bob Kroll and the city of Minneapolis had sought to dismiss the lawsuit.

In the suit, Tirado said Minneapolis police officers targeted her and fired a foam bullet at her face even though she said and had documentation that she was a member of the news media.

The lawsuit accused the police of an "unofficial custom of unlawful conduct toward journalists" during the protests and a conspiracy among the city, Kroll and the four police officers who shot at her to "deprive journalists of constitutional rights."

The city of Minneapolis, the judge wrote said, "cannot escape municipal liability if a plaintiff can plausibly allege that it was deliberately indifferent to widespread, consistent, unlawful use of force against the press."

"That numerous other journalists experienced similar, seemingly unjustified incidents involving less-lethal munitions and other measures is even more troubling, as the allegations plausibly suggest an unconstitutional custom carried out by MPD officers of targeting journalists for unlawful reprisals," Tunheim wrote in his decision.

Tirado has undergone two eye surgeries and has been told she may need more, according to court documents. She also has regular medical visits to address ongoing complications.

Tirado has returned to work covering protests and is interested in coming back to Minneapolis to document the aftermath of the protests. But she said she fears retaliation or excessive force by the Minneapolis police.

Police spokesman John Elder previously said "it very well could have been us" who injured Tirado with a foam bullet.

Alex Chhith • 612-673-4759