Man Blinded by Bean Bag in Cleveland Racial Protest Sues Sheriff’s Deputy

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A man hit in the face with a bean bag that left him blind in one eye during a racial injustice protest in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, a year ago has sued the sheriff’s deputy who shot him.

Attorneys for John Sanders, 25, of Sandusky, filed the complaint in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court on May 29, the day before the one-year anniversary of a Black Lives Matter protest organized in the wake of George Floyd’s slaying in Minneapolis.

“The injuries inflicted upon Sanders were part and parcel of a long history of inhumane treatment of citizens” by the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office, the lawsuit said.

Sanders along with friends and acquaintances had traveled to Cleveland to peacefully protest on May 30, 2020, the lawsuit said. Before joining the group to return home, Sanders crossed a street next to the Cuyahoga County Justice Center to snap photographs and was struck by a bean bag fired from behind a broken window as he began to walk away, the complaint said.

People rushed to Sanders’ aid and carried him out of harm’s way, Sanders told The Associated Press last year. He was taken to a hospital where he underwent unsuccessful surgery to repair the damage. His left eye was removed during a second surgery the next day. Additional surgery was needed to repair broken bones in his face and deal with a problematic skin graft.

Bruce Lourie is identified in the lawsuit and by a Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office report as the deputy who shot Sanders. The complaint names other county and sheriff’s office officials as defendants.

Lourie had received no training in use of non-lethal weapons before being handed the bean bag shotgun on May 30, 2020, a violation of departmental policy that requires such training, the lawsuit said.

The sheriff’s office placed Lourie on leave last June and asked the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation to conduct a criminal probe of the deputy’s actions. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley asked Geauga County Prosecutor James Flaiz in January to oversee the investigation, which Flaiz said last week was ongoing, reported.

Cuyahoga County spokesperson Mary Louise Madigan declined to comment about the lawsuit.

Two separate lawsuits were filed late last week in federal court in Cleveland by 15 people who said they were victims of excessive force and had their rights violated by Cleveland police officers and Cuyahoga County sheriff’s deputies on May 30.

Nearly 20 people filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against the city of Toledo and three dozen officers, accusing them of excessive during the Floyd protests.

The lawsuit said officers fired wooden projectiles at protesters who were holding signs and had their arms raised, causing broken bones and other injuries.

A message seeking comment was left with a city spokesperson.

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