Indiana Protester Loses Eye During Clash with Police: ‘Small Collateral for Battle We’re Fighting’

In a statement Sunday, the Fort Wayne Police Department (FWPD) said the incident occurred when 21-year-old Balin Brake remained outside the Allen County Courthouse after officers told protesters to leave, according to WPTA 21.

The statement read:

Gas was deployed in the area and the protester bent over to pick up the canister to throw it back at officers as many others were trying to do. When he bent over another canister was deployed in the area and that canister skipped and hit the protester in the eye. There was no deliberate deployment of gas to any persons head.

However, the Indiana Tech student claimed on what appeared to be his Twitter account that the officers “unnecessarily and improperly” fired the canister at his head:

Brake’s mother, Rachel Simonis, told the Journal Gazette that newscasters witnessed the moment the canister hit her son in the eye.

“Balin fell to the ground and they (police) left him laying on the ground and two men picked him up and took him to safety, towards the police and a police officer called an ambulance. They just left him laying there in the street,” she explained.

When asked if he attempted to throw the canister back at the officers, Brake said “Absolutely not.”

“I was not wearing gloves. Those canisters are hot as hell. I would not try to pick them up with my bare hands. In fact, one of them hit my shoe and burned my laces off,” he stated.

Following surgery, Brake shared a photo of himself in a bed at Lutheran Hospital.

In the coming weeks, Brake will undergo another operation to repair fractures and be fitted for a prosthetic eye, according to Simonis.

However, Brake told the Gazette that losing his eye was “small collateral for the battle we’re fighting,” adding that if people were not using their so-called “white privilege” to advocate for their fellow human beings, “then that is just wrong.”