ACLU Lawsuit Says DC Police Used Chemicals, Stun Grenades on Photojournalists During Protests

Protestors confront police in Black Lives Matter Plaza on Aug. 30, 2020.
Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

The American Civil Liberties Union of D.C. filed a lawsuit Thursday against the District and eight police officers on behalf of two photojournalists.

The suit alleges Metropolitan Police Department officers used stun grenades and chemical irritants on the photojournalists and protesters at Black Lives Matter Plaza in August 2020.

Earlier that summer, the D.C. Council banned police use of those measures at demonstrations, the ACLU said.

“MPD flagrantly used tactics that D.C. laws explicitly ban,” ACLU-D.C. attorney Megan Yan said in a news release. “It’s especially ironic that MPD responded to these demonstrations with the kind of violence that the protestors were protesting.”

Oyoma Asinor and Bryan Dozier were covering protests the night of Aug. 29 when police allegedly used chemicals and stun grenades, the ACLU said.

Asinor went back the next night and police allegedly used the same tactics, according to the ACLU. Police pushed him to the ground, handcuffed him and detained him overnight even though he identified himself as a journalist, the ACLU says.

He was released without being charged, but his phone and camera were confiscated and not returned until Aug. 3, the ACLU says.

Both photojournalists continue to suffer psychological distress, according to the ACLU.

The eight police officers being sued were not named.

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