Los Angeles police released body-worn camera footage Friday that shows a protester with his hands up as he is shot in the head with a less-than-lethal round when officers tried to contain demonstrations against police brutality in May.
The May 30 video depicts a chaotic scene with officers — who were reportedly being struck by rocks, glass bottles and frozen water bottles — screaming “Less lethal!” and “Leave the area!” and firing at fleeing protesters.
One protester, later identified as CJ Montano, is seen standing in the street with his hands raised. The video shows him crumpling to the ground as officers fire projectiles at the protesters. Others are seen helping Montano get out of harm’s way as officers in skirmish lines advance down the street.
Montano told the Los Angeles Times that he did not pose a threat to police and was targeted during the protests in the city’s Fairfax District. The 24-year-old former Marine told the newspaper he was hospitalized with serious bleeding in his brain and is still recovering from multiple symptoms.
LAPD officials are calling the incident an “unintentional head strike” and say they have not been able to interview Montano, who has notified the city that he plans to file a lawsuit unless he is compensated for his injuries.
“It just feels like it was all intentional, and it makes me feel sick,” Montano told the LA Times.
It’s not clear if Montano was struck with a sponge and foam bullets or a beanbag round. Authorities said they are investigating who fired the projectile at him.
LAPD policy requires that officers fire non-lethal projectiles at specific targets who present a threat. Officers are not supposed to aim for a person’s head or neck, or any people who are running away.
The department’s uses of force during the protests, which occurred in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody, have come under scrutiny. An LA Times review found that officers likely violated protocols governing batons and tactical weapons use as they sought to quell civil unrest.