A man who says he lost an eye last summer while peacefully protesting has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana against the police officer who allegedly left him partially blind. The officer accused of firing the tear gas round into Balin Brake’s face is requesting qualified immunity, the legal doctrine that often protects state actors from being held accountable in civil court.
Brake, 22, says that on May 30, 2020, he arrived at the Allen County Courthouse in Fort Wayne, Indiana, for a nonviolent demonstration following the death of George Floyd. While standing with his hands up, he claims, a group of officers with the Fort Wayne Police Department (FWPD) fired tear gas into the crowd, prompting them to retreat. One tear gas canister hit his right shoe, causing it to burn; he then looked back, at which point Officer Justin Holmes allegedly fired a canister that hit Brake in the face.