SEATTLE — The father of a child who was hit with pepper spray during the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests in Seattle has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging assault and negligence by police officers.
Their use of force sparked national outrage after video and photos showed medics and other protesters pouring water and milk on the screaming child’s face to relieve his suffering, the Seattle Times reported.
An investigation by the Office of Police Accountability determined the boy’s injuries were “inadvertent” and not excessive force or a violation of policy. The officer was trying to spray another protester and struck the child instead, OPA said.
The lawsuit filed by the boy’s father, Armand Avery, alleges the child was in agony and was treated at a hospital for chemical burns. It says the city and officers violated the law against discrimination because Avery and his son are Black, and the protest “was intended to address disproportionate excessive force used unjustly against African Americans and other people of color.
“The use of noxious gases against individuals exercising their constitutional right to speak out about issues of inequity in support of members of a protected class constitutes a violation of the Washington State Law Against Discrimination,” the lawsuit claims.
Anthony Derrick, a spokesperson for City Attorney Ann Davison, said the office is unable to comment on pending litigation.