A baseball fan says he was bleeding more than Dodger blue when a Los Angeles Police Department’s less-than-lethal projectile hit him square in the eye during the rowdy partying that followed his team’s 2020 World Series victory. Isaac Castellanos claims the errant missile partially blinded him, and now he’s taking the LAPD to court.
As the Los Angeles Times reports, Castellanos, 23, filed a lawsuit this week in U.S. District Court seeking unspecified damages from the city—including money to reimburse him for lost potential earnings in the world of competitive gaming, claiming he earned income from gaming prior to the alleged incident.
Castellanos, who was a Cal State Long Beach student at the time, says he wasn’t breaking any laws as he celebrated the Dodgers’ win along with thousands of others near Crypto.com arena around 1 a.m. on October 28, 2020. Then officers closed in on the crowd.
According to the suit, Castellanos “briefly turned in the direction of the officers” to grab one of his friends and leave the area when he was hit in the right eye with a projectile fired by an unidentified officer from more than 60 feet away.
“I immediately knew what happened,” he tells the Times. “I was kind of shocked for a second.”
Though the LAPD declined to comment to the paper, police Chief Michel Moore said at the time that the unruly fans had turned violent and were “embarrassing” the city. “The story is not that the Dodgers won,” Moore said. “The story is the vandalism, the looting and how the celebration was taken over by thugs.”
Although there was a thuggish element among the law-abiding citizens feting the Dodgers’ first Series win in 32 years, Castellanos says he wasn’t part of it. He also claims he never heard any disperse order before the police pushed in with projectile-launchers drawn.
His suit alleges that officers used “unreasonable force by indiscriminately, and without warning” firing the projectiles. He sought treatment at Long Beach hospital immediately after being struck, Castellanos says, but he never regained full vision in the injured eye.
“In the direct middle, it is completely black,” he tells the Times. The lawsuit adds that the melee left him with “poor depth perception which interferes with his day-to-day activities, including studying, working, cooking, and athletic activities, and emotional distress, including anxiety and depression, which have interfered with his schooling, employment and relationships.”
Additionally, the suit contends, “Prior to the incident, [Castellanos] enjoyed a successful career as an esports athlete and streamer, and only a few weeks before the incident, plaintiff won a prominent gaming tournament, which was only the beginning of what would be a bright and lucrative future in esports.”
It’s unknown what type of projectile struck Castellanos, but LAPD officers at the time were authorized to use two different types of hard-foam projectiles, as well as beanbag rounds. The department’s use of these weapons has earned it a slew of litigation in recent years.
In one example last May, an L.A. man sued the city after his own uncle, an LAPD cop, allegedly ordered fellow officers to fire non-lethal rounds at his nephew during a George Floyd protest the previous year, hitting him in the buttocks.
That month, a U.S. District Court judge set restrictions on the LAPD’s use of projectiles, limiting officers to using 40mm projectile launchers “when a person is violently resisting arrest or poses and immediate threat of violence or physical harm, and the use should be preceded by a warning,” and 36mm rounds “as a crowd control tool with prior approval from an incident commander and after a dispersal order has been issued or when immediate action is necessary to stop violence, ensure public safety or restore order.”
“Enough is enough,” Castellanos tells the Times. “They have to see that this is affecting not just my life. Many others’ lives are completely changed, and it’s not fair.”
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