Freelance Photographers Sue Over Injuries Suffered in 2020 Police Riots


Two freelance photographers have filed a lawsuit over injuries they suffered after alleging police unlawfully shot them with rubber bullets as they covered the 2020 protests.

Protests erupted in Kenosha County, Wisconsin, after a police officer shot Jacob Blake, who is Black, seven times during a domestic disturbance on August 23. The police shooting left Blake paralyzed from the waist down.

Photographers Alyssa Schukar and Scott Olson were assigned to cover those protests in Kenosha County for The New York Times and Getty Images, respectively.

The photographers were covering the protests on August 25 when police officers allegedly shot Schukar in the hand and Olson in the head with rubber bullets and sprayed them with chemical agents. The pair’s injuries reportedly required surgery and ongoing physical therapy.

Reuters reports that Schukar and Olson have now filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin over the injuries they suffered as a result of the alleged unlawful shooting.

The photographers have accused the city and county governments and law enforcement department heads of failing to train and supervise their officers properly. They also claimed that their First, Fourth, and Fourteen Amendment rights were violated.

“This excessive force and unconstitutional constraint on Plaintiffs’ civil and constitutional rights resulted in physical injuries and emotional distress,” the two photographers say in the lawsuit filed on July 4.

Schukar and Olson are seeking punitive damages and legal fees. The lawsuit names Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth, former Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis, and 10 unnamed sheriff deputies and police officers as defendants.

Schukar’s and Olson’s case is one of a long list of incidents where photographers were injured or mistreated during various protests in 2020.

Photojournalist Linda Tirado was blinded by a foam bullet fired by police while covering the George Floyd protests in Minneapolis.

Footage also emerged of a Denver police officer shoving a photographer into a fire as the protests raged.

In May, photojournalist Sharif Hassan was awarded a $105,000 payout from the City of Atlanta after being arrested during the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests.

Meanwhile, photographer Trevor Hughes received a $350,000 payout from Denver Police after he nearly lost his finger while covering the protests.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.