A 21-year-old college student filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against the city of Minneapolis and three unidentified police officers who she alleges fired a nonlethal projectile at her in the aftermath of a protest she attended in May over the death of George Floyd.
The projectile struck below her left eye, fractured her cheek bone, and has resulted in recurring problems with her vision, the suit says.
Graciela Cisneros, an Augsburg University student living in Eagan, was walking back to her car with her partner, Ricardo Ramos Jr., after attending a May 29 march to protest the Floyd killing, the suit says. Around 9:24 p.m., the couple encountered three officers at 1st Ave. S. near E. 28th St., it says. One of the officers shined a flashlight at them, and another fired his weapon, launching a nonlethal projectile at her face, the suit says.
None of the officers offered to help her, the suit alleges. The suit seeks $5.5 million in damages.
While almost all such cases settle before a trial, the amount is considerably more than what the city has paid out in some cases where individuals died over alleged police misconduct.
Cisneros does not know which law enforcement agency employed the officers involved in the shooting, according to the suit, but lays blame for the incident on the city of Minneapolis.
“These individuals were likely members of the MPD [Minneapolis Police Department], though they may have been operating in Minneapolis at the direction of the mayor and governor under the auspices of another law enforcement agency,” the suit states.
Cisneros’ attorney, Nico Ratkowski, said that he filed a data practices request seeking bodycam footage, and the city responded that it was unaware of any officers who were in that location at the time.
“The lawsuit was just filed so the City Attorney’s Office has not had time to review it yet,” said Sarah McKenzie, a spokeswoman for the city.
According to the suit, Cisneros and Ramos had attended protests over several days in Minneapolis in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, who died in police custody on May 25 after officer Daniel Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.
Cisneros worked at a supermarket and after her shift, she and Ramos, parked their car on East Lake St. and joined a march that went north on Nicollet Ave. toward Loring Park until it was dispersed by police, the suit says. The couple was walking back to their car when they were confronted by the three officers.
One of the three officers, who was 15 to 30 feet away, fired at them without first issuing a verbal command. Cisneros says neither she nor Ramos were carrying a weapon. A curfew was in effect, the violation of which a misdemeanor, the suit says, but the officers did not seek to cite or arrest them.