Justice has been served Eleaqia McCrae, who was shot in the eye and chest with rubber bullets by Salem police in May 2020 during a Black Lives Matter protest.
Today the Salem Reporter published a story about the $1 million awarded McCrae by a jury after she filed a lawsuit.
The city of Salem will have to pay a protester just over $1 million because police violated her constitutional rights when they shot her with rubber bullets at a local protest two years ago.
A federal jury on Friday, Sept. 30, unanimously ruled in favor of Eleaqia McCrae, 22, who sued the city over its handling of a protest against police violence on May 31, 2020. She said in her suit that she was left with permanent eye damage after an officer shot her twice with rubber bullets, hitting her chest and eye.
Following a trial last week in the U.S. District Court of Oregon, the jury unanimously found Salem Police Department officer Robert Johnston used excessive force when he shot McCrae, violating her Fourth Amendment rights.
For sure, this wasn't a shining moment for the Salem Police Department. In September 2020 I wrote a blog post about what sure seemed to be an attempted cover-up by the department.
Here's some excerpts from Rubber bullet lawsuit undermines credibility of Salem Police Department.
I'm changing my mind about the Salem Police Department. By and large, I've believed that Salem has been fortunate to have a well-run department marked by honesty, integrity, and a willingness to admit mistakes.
Sure, the department's actions during this year's Black Lives Matter protests following the murder of George Floyd were questionable at best and outrageous at worst. Using tear gas and playing nice with armed counter-protesters put chinks in the Police Department's "well-run" reputation.
To me those chinks widened to a crevasse after I read the front page story in today's Statesman Journal by Whitney Woodworth,
"Protester sues city, Salem police for civil rights violations, shooting her in face, chest with rubber bullet."
...Contrast those allegations in the lawsuit with what Police Chief Jerry Moore said in a June 24 after-action report to Steve Powers, the City Manager. The following is part of a description of what happened on May 31, the day Eleaqia McCrae was shot by rubber bullets.
At 2158 hours, Lt. VanMeter authorized the use of CS gas and other munitions on the unlawful protestors and those launching items at the officers. LRAD announcements continued to be given. While we are not aware of any injuries to those in the crowd due to police actions, we were able to assist one female protestor who officers witnessed being struck in the head by a brick thrown by another protestor/rioter. After providing medical assistance and ensuring she was safe we had her transported to the hospital via ambulance.
This sure sounds like a Salem Police Department cover-up. There's little or no doubt that McCrae's injuries were caused by rubber bullets. She says that a police officer spoke with her after she was shot in the chest and eye. She was taken to the Salem Hospital Emergency Room.
Yet Chief Moore claimed that he wasn't aware "of any injuries to those in the crowd due to police actions."
Wow. Chief Moore must not have done much investigating before the after-action report was written. Or his police offices lied to him about their not being any injuries to protesters. Or Chief Moore deliberately withheld the rubber bullets injuries from his report.
Whichever possibility is true, it's a big blow to the credibility of the Salem Police Department. Shouldn't the department have contacted the Emergency Room to learn if there were people admitted with injuries caused by the actions of police officers?
They learned about a protester being struck in the head by a brick thrown by another protester. Yet the department was clueless, supposedly, about a protester being shot in the eye and chest by bullets fired by a police officer or officers.
There's no doubt that Chief Moore's after-action report was deeply flawed. The only question is whether this was deliberate or a result of incompetence.
Hopefully we will learn which is true in the course of the lawsuit being adjudicated.
Now we know that Eleaqia McCrae was indeed seriously injured by Salem police during the protest. Yet Chief Moore, now retired, claimed otherwise in his after-action report filed more than three weeks after the protest.
Whether Moore and other police department leaders were lying or incompetent is an open question. Regardless, this episode shows that when the Salem Police Department claims something is true, some healthy skepticism is in order.