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Wednesday, 14 April 2021

BLM protester, 29, sues LAPD after bodycam footage shows cop firing foam-covered round at his groin 'causing grapefruit-size swelling'

 A Black Lives Matter protester whose testicle exploded into pieces after he was shot with a hard -foam projectile by a Los Angeles police officer during demonstrations last summer filed a lawsuit Monday. 

Ben Montemayor, now 29, named the city and LAPD Chief Michael Moore as defendants in the suit, calling foul to findings by the department's Use of Force Review Board that determined the officer was in policy when Montemayor was shot during June protests in Hollywood. 

Montemayor is seeking unspecified monetary damages in the suit but he told the Los Angeles Times that he hopes the case will help hold the LAPD accountable and protect future protesters from the dangers of the projectiles.  


'They're used irresponsibly. They're overused,' he said. 'I don't want them to be downplayed.'

Bodycam footage taken at a Black Lives Matter protest in Los Angeles on June 20 showed the moment a police officer fired a foam bullet into an activist's groin. Ben Montemayor, now 29, named the city and LAPD Chief Michael Moore as defendants in the suit he filed

Bodycam footage taken at a Black Lives Matter protest in Los Angeles on June 20 showed the moment a police officer fired a foam bullet into an activist's groin. Ben Montemayor, now 29, named the city and LAPD Chief Michael Moore as defendants in the suit he filed

LAPD release bodycam footage of man getting tasered by an officer
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Ben Montemayor, now 29, named the city and LAPD Chief Michael Moore (pictured) as defendants in the suit he filed 

At the time of the incident, Montemayor had been holding a sign calling for the department to be defunded when officers began approaching. 

The lawsuit contends that Montemayor had not heard the dispersal order but as he walked in the general direction of where he believed officers wanted him to go, two rushed him and ripped his sign before shoving him backwards.  

'As Mr. Montemayor stood there, unarmed, not resisting arrest, posing no threat whatsoever to anyone around him, and having just been violently shoved, a third officer less than ten feet away aimed his green [40-millimeter] launcher at Mr. Montemayor and intentionally shot him in the groin with a high-speed plastic, hard foam projectile,' the lawsuit claims.


Body-cam footage shows Montemayor being shot by a 40mm foam pellet gun along Hollywood Boulevard on June 20.  

The lawsuit states that both of Montemayor's testicles swelled up immediately, with the right one growing to the size of a grapefruit. 

Footage shows the man standing in the middle of a crosswalk with his arms raised in the air as he holds a banner. Montemayor would be shot soon after

Footage shows the man standing in the middle of a crosswalk with his arms raised in the air as he holds a banner. Montemayor would be shot soon after

A scrotal ultrasound was performed by doctors who soon determined that the man needed emergency surgery - which involved 'piecing back together portions of his testicle which had exploded,' the lawsuit states.

Montemayor claims that since the shooting, he still suffers from emotional distress and trauma. He still has 'flashbacks of being attacked' whenever he sees police and does not feel comfortable protesting since the incident, according to the lawsuit.

The suit states that Montemayor's treatment shows 'a horrific example of the unjustified police abuse and First Amendment retaliation meted out violently against peaceful protesters.' 

'A civilized society cannot survive if the police are allowed to run wild in the streets,' Dan Stormer, one of his attorneys, said in a statement Monday. 'The LAPD is out of control.' 

Last September, California police released bodycam footage that showed the Black Lives Matter protester being shot in the groin with a foam bullet during a march in Los Angeles.  

Police subsequently announced their own investigation into the shooting. The bodycam footage was released as part of the police probe. 

Police take his banner and push him out of the road, before opening fire as he takes a step towards them - which he said was to help a friend who was pushed over

Police take his banner and push him out of the road, before opening fire as he takes a step towards them - which he said was to help a friend who was pushed over

The footage showed a group of officers who were sent to tackle protesters who were gathering on part of Hollywood Boulevard on June 20.

In the video, officers run towards a junction of Hollywood Boulevard and another street as bottles are thrown at them, and attempt to clear the activists away.

Two protesters can be seen standing on the crosswalk holding a banner, one of whom has his hands raised in the air.

Officers take the banner away and push the man with his hands up away from the crossing. He takes a single step towards the officers, and is shot in the groin.

Montemayor told the LA Times that he was trying to help up a friend who had been pushed to the ground when he was shot.

Montemayor told the LA Times that he was trying to help up a friend who had been pushed to the ground when he was shot

Montemayor told the LA Times that he was trying to help up a friend who had been pushed to the ground when he was shot

He said fellow protesters helped him away from the scene, and that afterwards he went to hospital when one of his testicles swelled to twice its normal size.

He was taken in for emergency surgery which lasted around three hours in an attempt to preserve his ability to have children.

Montemayor described the shooting as a 'brutal assault' and said the video shows that 'in some ways, it's even worse than we thought.'

Dismissing the police investigation, he said the department were simply covering their own backs 'to protect themselves from the lawsuit that is coming'.

LAPD policy states that crowd-control weapons, such as foam bullets, should only be used on people who are more than five feet away.

The weapons cannot be blindly fired into crowds, must be used against people who present a 'clear and immediate threat', and cannot be used to retaliate against verbal threats or because of 'noncompliance'. 

California has seen near-continuous protests against inequality and police brutality that began in May after the death of George Floyd (pictured, marchers in LA the day before the shooting)

California has seen near-continuous protests against inequality and police brutality that began in May after the death of George Floyd (pictured, marchers in LA the day before the shooting)

The shooting took place on June 20, a day after demonstrators took to the streets across the US for Juneteenth - marking the day the last Confederate slaves learned of their freedom

The shooting took place on June 20, a day after demonstrators took to the streets across the US for Juneteenth - marking the day the last Confederate slaves learned of their freedom

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