A South Pasadena Black Lives Matter activist sued the city of Los Angeles Wednesday, alleging she was hit with a baton and shot in the stomach and arm with projectiles used by LAPD officers during a protest in the Fairfax District last spring after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
“I was in total dismay. I could not believe what was happening to me,” 39-year-old Fahren James said as she recalled the events of May 30 during a news conference announcing the filing of her Los Angeles Superior Court complaint, which seeks unspecified damages.
Rox Wilcox, a spokesman for the City Attorney’s Office, said he had not yet seen the lawsuit, but that it would be reviewed once it is served. He said he had no further comment.
James alleges her constitutional rights were violated when she was allegedly targeted and wounded by an officer who fired the projectiles into her stomach and arm in what the suit states is a violation of department policy.
James, a South Pasadena resident who says she has been targeted by white supremacists for her activism, also said that other protesters around her were “getting shot without provocation.”
James said she spent three days in a hospital for merely asserting her First Amendment rights in a peaceful manner.
“We were there because we recognized a problem in the system,” James said.
Attorney V. James DeSimone said his client “will never forget that day,” and he invited newly elected Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon to take a look at the actions of the officers during the protest.
According to the lawsuit, James drove to the protest site at about 4:20 p.m. and was standing on the sidewalk along Beverly Boulevard, east of the Erewhon Market, and saw police enter the CBS Studios parking lot, then shortly thereafter rush out firing nonlethal bullets at a group of people.
James alleges she saw an officer leave the line and point his weapon at her. She told the officer she was peacefully protesting and asked why he aimed his weapon at her, according to her court papers. When the officer turned the weapon away from her, she turned her back to the officers, the suit says.
James said she tried to reason with the officers and convince them to de-escalate the situation, but a brief time later, without provocation, a female LAPD officer struck James on her back with a baton. A male LAPD officer next to the female officer shot James twice from point-blank range with bullets that
left metal fragments in her stomach, her suit says.
One shot struck James in the abdomen and another struck her under her left arm, which she had raised in vain to protect herself, according to the complaint.
James made headlines in July when a cyclist spit on her during a protest. Days later she saw the same man and followed him. The suspect threw a rock that struck her in the leg. Witnesses cornered the man until police arrived and arrested Joe Richcreek on suspicion of battery.