Indiana Student Loses Eye After Being Struck By Tear Gas Canister During Protest
A weekend editor at a local television station in Indiana reportedly lost his eye after he was hit in the face by a tear gas canister launched by police during a protest in Fort Wayne, Indiana, according to The Hill.
Balin Brake, a 21-year-old student, “was taken to the hospital with a ruptured eye and fractured occipital bone, according to a post tied to a Facebook fundraiser set up by his mother, Rachel Simonis.”
Brake, who was not working for the station at the time of the incident, announced in a Monday social media post that he had lost his eye.
Police and witnesses offered differing accounts of the incident.
Fort Wayne police told Brake’s employer, WFFT, that “he had bent over to pick up a canister, intending to throw it back at police, when another canister hit him in the eye,” The Hill reported, adding that “"There was no deliberate deployment of gas to any person’s head.”
However, Brake said he did not attempt to pick up the canister, knowing that it would be hot and he was not wearing gloves at the time.
Local news reporter Michael Kuhn said he saw someone get hit in the face with a canister but could not identify the victim as Brake.
Kuhn added that “a few of the canisters certainly seemed to be fired at eye level from my perspective.”
The Hill noted that another individual, journalist Linda Tirado, also lost an eye after being hit with a rubber bullet during a protest in Minneapolis.
While many protesters have also been hurt, members of the media have been arrested and injured at rates that have shocked many onlookers.
“I’ve never seen anything quite like this,” Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, told The Washington Post. “Many of the norms have broken down.”