Baton Rouge officer sues Black Lives Matter over 2016 ambush of cops
BATON ROUGE — A wounded officer’s lawsuit filed in federal court in Louisiana alleges Black Lives Matter and several of its leaders are responsible for last year’s ambush on law enforcement in Baton Rouge.
The July 17, 2016, attack by gunman Gavin Long claimed the lives of two police officers and a sheriff’s deputy and wounded two deputies and an officer.
Lawyers for one of the wounded law enforcement officers filed the complaint Friday in US District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana against various arms of the Black Lives Matter movement and leaders including DeRay Mckesson and Johnetta Elzie.
The complaint alleges Black Lives Matter and its leaders are responsible for the shooting because they “incited the violence against police in retaliation for the death (sic) of black men shot by police,” and “did nothing to dissuade the ongoing violence and injury to police.”
“In fact, they justified the violence as necessary to the movement and war,” the complaint says.
The person who filed the lawsuit is named in the complaint only as Officer John Doe Smith. It says he is 42 with two children and is permanently disabled as a result of the numerous injuries he suffered in the ambush.
Smith, the complaint says, was shot through his abdomen, left shoulder and left side of his head. The shot to his abdomen “tore up his intestines,” requiring 16 surgeries and causing recurring infections. Medical staff must attend to the exit wound daily, it says.
The shot to Smith’s head almost tore off his left ear, which needed to be sewn back on, the complaint says. His skull was shattered and he lost brain matter on the left side, in an area controlling communication. His left eye stays mostly closed with the eyeball turned outward, it says.
“John Doe Police Officer was strong and vibrant and he has been struggling everyday, fighting to live, and fighting to get better,” the complaint says. It seeks at least $75,000 in compensatory damages.
It is not clear why the officer filed the complaint under a pseudonym.
Donna Grodner, the attorney for the officer who filed the suit, told CNN she wasn’t authorized to speak about the case.
The Baton Rouge victims
In the attack last July, Long waited for police near a Baton Rouge convenience store that was known as a favorite stop for patrol officers.
Armed with a rifle, he fatally shot Officers Matthew Gerald, 41, and Montrell Jackson, 32, outside the store as soon as he saw them.
Sheriff’s Deputy Brad Garafola, who apparently was responding to reports of a man with a rifle, heard the shots and took cover, but then ran to help one of the downed officers. That’s when Long opened fire, killing Garafola.
Long then shot Officer Chad Montgomery, who had pulled up in front of the building. The bullet grazed his head.
In a nearby parking lot, Sheriff’s Deputy Nicholas Tullier, then 41, was in his cruiser to run the tag on Long’s car when the gunman emerged from the woods and opened fire, shooting as he walked toward the vehicle.
Tullier was shot once in the head and twice in the abdomen and was in a coma for months.
Long took shots at another arriving deputy, Bruce Simmons, 51, shattering the bone from his elbow to his shoulder. Simmons now has a titanium rod in his arm.
SWAT officers then arrived on scene and shot Long in the leg, causing him to fall to the ground. As Long reached for his weapon, five SWAT officers fired, killing him.
Lawsuit: Black Lives Matter ‘declared war’ on police
The complaint describes in detail numerous protests that erupted across the country over several years, spurred by the shooting deaths of black men at the hands of police, and lists instances of violence, looting and vandalism at protests in Ferguson, Missouri; Baltimore; McKinney, Texas; Dallas and Baton Rouge.
The suit notes Mckesson’s involvement in Black Lives Matter, and it points to his participation in the protests and his appearances in the media when he was introduced as a leader of the movement or a protest organizer.
When violence erupted at some of the protests, the complaint says, Mckesson and other Black Lives Matter leaders “failed to disavow the violence and urged its followers that violence was part of revolution,” the complaint says.
“By embracing and supporting violence in protest that could have been conducted peacefully, BLM declared a virtual war on police,” it says.
When reached for comment, Mckesson told CNN, “This is the second lawsuit an officer has filed against me from Baton Rouge. … I’m confident it has no merit.”
Elzie had no comment, and other defendants from Black Lives Matter could not be immediately reached for comment.
Baton Rouge ambush ‘mimicked’ Dallas attack
Mckesson and Elzie were present for protests in Baton Rouge in July 2016 held in response to the officer-involved shooting deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile near Minneapolis earlier that month.
The suit says they came to protest and “to incite others to violence against police and other law enforcement officers.”
Mckesson was arrested during the protests on July 9, though he told CNN days later the arrest was unlawful because he was complying with police requests to move back at the time.
The lawsuit also says Long’s actions when he killed the Baton Rouge officers “followed and mimicked those of another BLM activist who killed several officers in Dallas just days earlier.”
Five Dallas police officers were killed and seven others wounded on July 7 last year when a gunman opened fire on them during protests against the killings of Sterling and Castile.
Investigators identified the Dallas gunman as Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, a military veteran who had served in Afghanistan.
Johnson told police negotiators during a standoff that he was upset about recent police shootings and wanted to kill white people, especially white officers, the police chief said. His online history showed he visited and liked several websites dedicated to Black Lives Matter. Johnson was killed after a standoff with police.
Long, who acted alone in the shooting, traveled to Baton Rouge after stopping in Dallas shortly after the shooting to get revenge for the recent killings, the complaint says, suggesting that Black Lives Matter encouraged the behavior.