Ex-BRPD officer wants 'BLM' added back to his lawsuit after court removed it
BATON ROUGE - In 2016, former Baton Rouge police officer Brad Ford was dispatched to a protest near BRPD headquarters spawned by the police shooting of Alton Sterling.
The protests, which were angry and intense, sometimes turned violent for both protestors and first responders.
"I got hit with a piece of asphalt in the mouth," Ford said. "It broke some teeth, cut the inside of my mouth, cut my tongue, gave me a concussion, and it affected my eyesight."
Ford says the injuries were bad enough for him to have to leave BRPD.
"Basically, I see black dots and squiggly lines and weird things like that in my eyesight and carrying a gun, as you know, I really need to be on my game," Ford said.
Nearly 200 protestors were arrested that day, but none for violent offenses and most of the charges were eventually dropped.
In fact, the city-parish agreed to pay out a $100,000 settlement to about half of them.
Though he doesn't know who threw the asphalt, Ford decided to sue protest organizer Deray Mckesson and the 'Black Lives Matter' organization as a whole.
"Any organization that comes out to protest, which is legal as long as they're not committing crimes, if they come out and start committing crimes during their protest, they should be held liable if they injure or hurt first responders," Ford said.
The case has bounced around quite a lot since 2017, but the 5th U.S. Circuit court has twice now removed 'BLM' from the suit. U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson says 'Black Lives Matter' is a social movement and cannot be sued.
"He was citing that it was a hashtag movement and not a legal entity," Ford said.
Judge Jackson referred us to his ruling, which in part states, "Despite the tragic events that gave rise to Officer [Ford]'s injuries, however, Plaintiff's counsel has utterly failed to state a plausible claim for relief against any named defendant in this matter."
Ford and his lawyers don't agree.
"They have board members. They have board meetings. They pay taxes. They have a tax ID, so to me, they check every box to a legal entity that can be sued in this country," Ford said.
Though the case is allowed to proceed against BLM organizer Mckesson, Ford wants to set a precedent for protests like these in the future.
"I don't care if it's KKK, BLM, ANTIFA, any organization that comes out and starts committing crimes and they hurt first responders, they should be held liable," Ford said.
The trial against Mckesson is slated to begin in April.