U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Photojournalist struck in knee by projectile during Raleigh protests

Incident Details

Date of Incident
May 30, 2020


Was the journalist targeted?
May 30, 2020

Brad Simmons, a photojournalist for North Carolina station WRAL-TV, was struck with a crowd-control munition while covering protests in Raleigh, North Carolina, on May 30, 2020.

The protest was among several demonstrations held across the country sparked by a video showing a police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a Black man, during an arrest in Minnesota on May 25. Floyd was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

Simmons told the Committee to Protect Journalists — a founding partner of the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker — that he was shooting video at the protest in Raleigh, which he said was “peaceful” until around 7:30 p.m., when it began to escalate.

“There was tear gas, people running. People started being a little bit more combative when law enforcement showed up,” Simmons says.

Simmons witnessed protesters throwing bottles and garbage can lids, as well as breaking windows and storefronts. At around 10:20 p.m., he was struck in the left knee by a rubber bullet. He assumes it was fired by police. Simmons estimates he was about 75 feet from police when he was struck. At the time he was struck, he saw many officers in riot gear.

Simmons doesn’t believe he was targeted for being a member of the media and thinks he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The Raleigh Police Department did not immediately respond to CPJ’s request for 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.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected].