Protesters watch tear gas shot outside the entrance to the La Mesa police station. Photo by Chris Stone
Protesters watch tear gas shot outside the entrance to the La Mesa police station. Photo by Chris Stone

A woman who alleges she was shot in the face with a police projectile at last year’s contentious protest at La Mesa police headquarters filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the city and its police department.

Zeelee Segura alleges La Mesa police officers deployed tear gas and fired projectiles on her and other protesters “without ensuring proper notification or warning” at the May 30 demonstration, which was sparked by the in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the controversial arrest of Amaurie Johnson in La Mesa.

Segura alleges that after police deployed tear gas, she and others in the crowd began to leave the area. When she turned back toward the police station to look for one of her friends who had accompanied her, an officer positioned in the mezzanine of the police station opened fire, striking her in the lip with a “potentially-deadly projectile or bullet,” she alleges.

The suit, one of several filed over the past year by people  struck by “less-than-lethal” law enforcement projectiles during the protest, alleges violations of Segura’s First Amendment rights to “speak, assemble, protest, and demonstrate peaceably” and that officers used excessive force in managing the crowd of demonstrators.

Others who have filed lawsuits in connection with the protest include Leslie Furcron, who was shot in the forehead with a beanbag projectile in the police department parking lot and subsequently sued the city and the officer who fired the projectile, Detective Eric Knudson.

The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office cleared Knudson of potential criminal liability, stating Knudson believed Furcron was throwing a rock at San Diego County sheriff’s deputies who had formed a skirmish line across the parking lot, though the object turned out to be an aluminum can.

Furcron alleged in her suit that she threw the can at the ground and nowhere near any officers.

Lawsuits were also filed by Delane Hurley, a woman who alleges she was walking through downtown La Mesa when she stopped to watch the rally unfolding, then was shot in the face by a police projectile; Tyler Astorga, who alleges he was shot in the head by a beanbag projectile while driving away from the protest; and Michelle Horton, who alleges she was shot in the chest with a projectile while standing on a La Mesa street corner

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