City of Minneapolis settles lawsuit with journalist blinded in one eye amid 2020 protests
The City of Minneapolis agreed to a settlement in the lawsuit brought by independent photojournalist Linda Tirado, who was struck by a rubber bullet amid protests in May 2020 and permanently blinded in one eye.
Tirado filed the lawsuit on June 10, 2020, less than two weeks after she was struck with multiple crowd-control munitions, naming the city, Police Officers Federation President Lt. Bob Kroll, police chief Medaria Arradondo and multiple other law enforcement officials and officers.
According to court documents reviewed by the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, the parties reached a tentative settlement on May 17, 2022. The Minneapolis City Council agreed to pay Tirado $600,000 on May 26. The city agreed to pay $2.4 million to Soren Stevenson, a protester who was also shot with a rubber bullet and permanently blinded, according to the Minnesota Reformer.
The Reformer reported that the city has continually denied any wrongdoing in Tirado’s case and has never admitted that an officer fired the projectile that hit the photojournalist.
Tirado told the Reformer that she does not regret covering the protest the day she was blinded.
“I did the right thing,” Tirado told the outlet. “Any time you as a member of the press are covering people who are hurting, it is worth it.”
Journalists subpoenaed in connection with ongoing excessive use of force lawsuit
On March 18, 2022, the City of Minneapolis issued subpoenas to three journalists in connection with freelance photojournalist Linda Tirado’s lawsuit against the city and multiple law enforcement officials.
Tirado was covering protests on May 29, 2020, following the police killing of George Floyd when she was struck in the face with a rubber bullet, permanently blinding her in one eye. According to her lawsuit, “As Ms. Tirado had been holding the camera near her face at the time she was shot, the eruption of blood permanently damaged her camera.”
In light of this information, the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker has updated this article to reflect the equipment damage.
Her suit, which alleges excessive use of force, cited multiple additional members of the press who were struck with crowd control munitions while covering the protests. Three of those journalists — Andy Mannix, Jared Goyette and Max Nesterak — were issued deposition subpoenas and asked to provide a large swath of information, communications and photos concerning their assaults and coverage of the protests.
In a statement shared with the Tracker, the City Attorney’s Office said: “The individuals subpoenaed were identified by Plaintiff Linda Tirado as having information relevant to her claims.
“It is incumbent upon the City Attorney’s Office, as it would be any attorney, to obtain information relevant to their client’s case, whether or not the individuals possessing that information happen to be journalists.”
Photojournalist Linda Tirado sues City of Minneapolis, police for excessive force
Freelance photojournalist Linda Tirado filed a lawsuit alleging excessive use of force and violations of her First Amendment rights after police struck her with a rubber bullet, permanently blinding her in one eye.
Tirado’s complaint, filed on June 10, 2020, names as defendants the City of Minneapolis, Police Officers Federation President Lt. Bob Kroll, police chief Medaria Arradondo, Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington and Minnesota State Patrol Col. Matthew Langer, as well as four John Does.
On May 29, Tirado was struck first with a tracking round and then multiple foam bullets while documenting the fourth night of protests spurred by the death of George Floyd in police custody. According to the complaint, at least one struck her in the face, shattering her goggles and injuring her eye.
While Tirado called out that she was a member of the press and closed her eyes against the blood and tear gas, no law enforcement officers attempted to help her, the complaint says.
It also alleges that police may have been deliberately targeting members of the press, citing other journalists injured while covering the protests and a letter disparaging the press sent to officers by police union president Kroll.
Tirado told Courthouse News that the purpose of her suit was not only to gain compensation for her injury, but also to raise awareness and reinforce that the press should not fear police retaliation.
“My goal here is to ensure that this does not continue to happen, to bring attention to the fact that this has happened a lot around the country, that this happened in Minneapolis, and that it’s really not fair,” she said.
Tirado said in an interview on Welcome to Hell World that she is uninsured and is already facing $58,000 in medical bills resulting from her injury.
Freelance writer and photographer Linda Tirado was struck with multiple crowd-control munitions while covering the fourth night of protests in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 29, 2020.
Protests in Minneapolis and across the nation were sparked by a video showing a police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a black man, during an arrest on May 25. Floyd was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
Tirado told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker she was reporting near the Third Precinct around midnight on the 29th when she was struck by a tracker round, judging from the green residue on her backpack.
A second round that she believes was a rubber bullet then struck the side of her head and her left eye.
“I got hit. My goggles broke, and I felt the blood and there was gas so I just closed my eyes, held up my hands and started yelling, ‘I’m press, I’m press!’” Tirado said.
Tirado said that a group of protesters took her to a nearby van and transported her to the hospital.
Tirado later tweeted that she is permanently blind in her left eye.
The Minneapolis Police Department did not respond to an email requesting comment.
The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker documents journalists assaulted, arrested, struck by crowd-control ammunition or tear gas or who had their equipment damaged in the course of reporting. Find all incidents related to Black Lives Matter and anti-police brutality protests here.