Charlotte moves to dismiss lawsuit from man injured during 2020 protest

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  • Charlotte is asking a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit from a man injured during a 2020 protest.
  • Kyre Mitchell says he lost parts of two fingers because of police actions during the protest, which was linked to the killing of George Floyd.

The city of Charlotte urges a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit from a man who says he lost two fingers because of police actions during a 2020 protest.

Kyre Mitchell filed suit in January against the city, its police chief and former deputy chief, 17 current and former named Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officers and supervisors, and 50 other unnamed officers from other law enforcement agencies.

He claims their actions during a May 30, 2020, protest caused the injuries that led to amputation of the middle and ring fingers on his right hand, as well as burns affecting the rest of his hand.

The protest took place in connection with the killing of George Floyd. Police “deployed teargas, pepper bullets, and flashbang grenades” while dealing with protesters, according to a memorandum the city filed Thursday.

“Plaintiff alleges that around 11:30 p.m, while he was standing near other protestors at the
intersection of Fifth Street and North Tryon Street, he picked up an object that then exploded in his hand,” according to the city memo.

Mitchell’s suit claims that he saw a police officer standing 50 away, who threw a device that “landed directly at his feet.” To protect people nearby, he picked up the device and planned to throw it away. The device instead exploded in his hand.

“Plaintiff offers multiple theories as to who allegedly threw the object that injured his hand,” the city argued in its memo. “In one theory, Plaintiff makes identical allegations against each of the thirteen CMPD Officer Defendants and alleges that ‘one or more of these officers
personally deployed the chemical munitions and the flash-bang grenade that caused the Plaintiff’s injuries.’ In another theory, Plaintiff alleges that his injuries may have been caused by someone else — either a different CMPD police officer or ‘law enforcement officers employed by neighboring Cities and Counties who provided aid to the CMPD.’”

“Plaintiff fails to even state the factual basis for his conclusory allegation that the person
who threw the device was ‘a police officer,’” the city’s memo continued. “Plaintiff specifically alleges that at least some ‘police officers … were dressed in plainclothes on May 30, 2022.’ Nowhere does Plaintiff describe the person who threw the device that ultimately injured his hand. To the extent Plaintiff is alleging that the person who threw the incendiary device could have been ‘dressed in plainclothes,’ that further contradicts his speculation as to the identity of the person.”

The city also rebuts Mitchell’s claims against police supervisors. The memorandum cites officers’ likely protection from liability through qualified immunity. It rejects Mitchell’s claims that the city or the individual defendants violated his First and Fourth Amendment rights.

The city also challenges Mitchell’s attempt to have a federal judge ban Charlotte-Mecklenburg police from using flashbang grenades in the future.

“No one doubts the severity of Plaintiff’s hand injury,” Charlotte’s memo concludes. “But Plaintiff offers nothing more than speculation that his injuries were caused by one of the 17 named defendants in this case, each of whom Plaintiff seeks to hold personally liable. Neither is there any plausible allegation that a policy or custom of the City is to blame.”

Mitchell will have a chance to respond to the city’s motion before the U.S. District Court for the Western District issues a ruling.