A Minneapolis City Council committee approved a $45,000 settlement Wednesday for a woman who said police shot her in the face with a less-lethal projectile, also known as a rubber bullet, while driving away from protests last year, knocking her unconscious at the wheel.
Earlier this year, Autumn Larson, 25, sued the city, its Police Department, Mayor Jacob Frey, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo and 30 unidentified officers for a host of civil rights violations she said she suffered on May 30, 2020.
Larson had attended a rally near E. 31st Street and Nicollet Avenue S. to protest the police killing of George Floyd, according to the lawsuit filed in Minnesota's U.S. District Court. Larson and her sister attempted to leave once the curfew took effect at 8 p.m. She was stuck on the entrance ramp to Hwy. 55 when police shot a tear-gas canister at the side of her car, according to the lawsuit.
The gas poured into her open window, choking and blinding her. She moved her head to the window for air, and a projectile hit her on the bridge of the noise, knocking her out, the lawsuit says.
The impact left Larson with severe bruising, a concussion and permanently debilitated vision, according to the civil complaint. She continues to suffer headaches, loss of smell, dizziness, sleeplessness and anxiety. The lawsuit alleges Larson was a victim of a pattern of excessive force by police that evening, which it says was authorized by Frey and Arradondo. It also says that Lt. Bob Kroll, at the time president of the Minneapolis police union, was acting as the department's "unofficial policymaker" who shaped the culture that led to the use of force.
The full City Council is slated to give final approval to the settlement on Friday.
Larson's is among a slew of lawsuits filed by protesters and journalists who attended rallies after Floyd's killing last year and say police violated their constitutional rights with use of force. Many suffered injuries from rubber bullets.
Earlier this year, a group of researchers published a review of records from 89 people who sought medical attention during the period of unrest, finding injuries from projectiles, particularly to the head and eye, to be the most common. The report, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, concluded that "under current practices, projectiles are not appropriate for crowd control."
Andy Mannix • 612-673-4036