A St. Paul woman says she was protesting peacefully outside Minneapolis' Third Precinct station last summer when police shot her in the face with a projectile, causing permanent injury to her eye.
Two days after Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd, Ana Maria Gelhaye joined the crowds that had amassed outside the south Minneapolis station to protest police brutality. While Gelhaye livestreamed the protest on Facebook, an unknown police officer fired a 40-mm "less-lethal" round at her face, according to a lawsuit she has filed in federal court.
The suit, which includes images captured on the livestream of Gelhaye's bloody eye right after she was shot, alleges that police violated her constitutional rights, including First Amendment protections.
"Making matters worse, no MPD officer rendered aid to Gelhaye after she was shot," according to the suit. "Instead, several bystanders (who happened to be nurses/medical workers) provided immediate first aid on the street and then at Moon Palace Books, a store in the area, before rushing Gelhaye to Abbott Northwestern Emergency Department."
The suit includes analysis from medical professionals who say Gelhaye suffered iris and retinal trauma and other permanent damage that incurred expensive medical bills. She also experienced psychological damage, according to the suit.
The suit names as defendants Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, the city of Minneapolis and several unidentified officers. The Minneapolis city attorney declined to comment on the suit, which was filed last week.
Gelhaye's allegations are the latest since last summer that Minneapolis police recklessly fired projectiles during the protests and riots that followed Floyd's murder May 25, 2020, wounding people who were behaving peacefully and in some cases causing serious injuries.
A group of researchers, primarily from the University of Minnesota Medical School, published a review of records from 89 people who sought medical attention during the unrest. The group found injuries from projectiles, particularly to the head and eye, to be the most common.
Their report, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, concluded that "under current practices, projectiles are not appropriate for crowd control."
Journalists also are suing the city, claiming police in one case targeted them intentionally with force during the unrest.
A U.S. Justice Department investigation into whether the Minneapolis Police Department has engaged in a pattern of illegal behavior includes allegations of officers violating First Amendment rights during protests.
Andy Mannix • 612-673-4036