New video released to the public helps the case of 59-year-old grandmother Leslie Furcron, who was shot by police and injured at a La Mesa protest in 2020.
Targeted with a beanbag round to the head, police initially claimed that Ms. Furcron was hit to protect nearby officers. Though the officer who fired the shot, Eric Knudson, has been cleared of wrongdoing by his colleagues at the La Mesa Police department and the San Diego County District Attorney’s office, the video reveals discrepancies.
The Pride Law Firm is actively representing individuals harmed by police actions during protests and demonstrations in 2020. If you need representation for a case of police misconduct or brutality, contact us today at (619) 516-8166 or via our confidential online form. For more information on Ms. Furcron’s case, read on.
What Does the Helicopter Footage Show?
The above helicopter video has been released to the public of an incident on May 30, 2020, five days after the murder of George Floyd. It shows protesters against police violence and racial profiling gathered in the parking lot of the La Mesa Police Department, where they are hit with tear gas by officers. Tear gas is a chemical weapon banned in war, but legal to use for “crowd control” purposes by police in the United States.
The video also captures the moment when Leslie Furcron was shot with a beanbag round. She was struck in the forehead, and fell to the ground. Fellow protesters are then seen carrying her to a van that transported the 59-year-old grandmother to the hospital for crucial medical care.
Officer Eric Knudson fired the round from roughly 100 yards away. Police Chief Walt Vasquez stated that Knudson was aiming at her body, not her head: “The initial aim was towards the torso area as trained.” However, Ms. Furcron was not the only citizen struck in the head at that same protest. Two others were also struck by projectiles in the head.
Dante Pride of The Pride Law Firm, Ms. Furcron’s lawyer, points out how unsafe that training is based on police training literature. “These are projectiles being fired at hundreds of feet per second. Now, when they fire that above the waist, even in their own use of force manual, that manual tells you above the waist turns yellow, which is a harder hit; and then red, which is potentially fatal.”
Pride also states that officers should not be firing indiscriminately into crowds. Even with beanbag rounds and other “less-lethal” ammo like rubber bullets, such weapons can still lead to death, especially when fired improperly at a person’s head.
What Are the Facts of the Case?
The La Mesa Police Department and Detective Knudson insist this use of potentially lethal force was justified. They claim that Ms. Furcron had tossed an empty soda can towards deputies who were at least 77 feet away from the deputy line, according to police diagrams of the incident.
Contrary to their narrative, the newly available video evidence shows Ms. Furcron at least 100 feet away from the line of deputies. She was simply throwing away an empty can, and it is Dante Pride’s assertion that his client posed no threat to any of the officers. “They were much too far away from her to ever be impacted by anything she could have thrown,” Pride said.
Newly-released reports also reveal:
- Detective Knudson was not properly trained for use of the beanbag shotgun he fired.
- The weapon did not belong to the La Mesa Police Department, but instead was a Sheriff’s Department weapon.
- The Sheriff’s Department’s less-lethal shotguns have different sights and specifications than those used by the La Mesa Police Department.
- The type of beanbag fired could not be determined, nor the gun identified with enough surety to be presented.
The gun that fired on Ms. Furcron is essentially missing. Ms. Furcron and Pride Law have filed a lawsuit against the City of La Mesa and Detective Knudson over this incident.
The right to protest is fundamental in the United States. By representing those injured while exercising their rights, The Pride Law Firm helps defend free speech and civil rights.
Contact an Attorney to Protect Your Civil Rights
The biggest issues in Ms. Furcron’s case are improper and potentially deadly shots to the head, officer misinformation, and the break in the chain of custody regarding a weapon used to fire on peacefully protesting civilians.
Beanbag projectiles are known as less-lethal rounds, but they can still cause severe harm and death, especially when fired at a person’s face, head, or neck. As with rubber bullets and stun guns, though they are less likely to kill the person struck, they are by no means non-lethal.
While this case is being litigated in civil courts, Detective Knudson still remains at his job with the La Mesa Police Department. If you need representation against this officer, this police department, or any law enforcement personnel, reach out to The Pride Law Firm today at (619) 516-8166. It’s our job to help protect your civil rights.