Fort Lauderdale woman speaks out after being struck in face by rubber bullet

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - While most demonstrations in South Florida have unfolded without incident, one woman shared her experience after being struck by a rubber bullet by Fort Lauderdale Police.

The incident took place at Sunday’s protest, and video footage of the incident has been circulating on social media ever since.

Ratliefe said she had just finished peacefully protesting and was walking to her car when she noticed a crowd getting rowdy near a parking garage. She said she was trying to calm the crowd when officers launched tear gas.

According to the Miami Herald, Latoya Ratliefe was kneeling when officers fired the tear gas and began shooting off rubber bullets.

As she was walking away, she said, one of the rubber bullets hit her in the face.

Video showed other protesters carrying her away.

“And I saw all the blood in the car, and I’m like, ‘Was I shot?'” she said, “and the guy said, ‘Yes, you were shot.'”

She said further, “I began to cry, because, first of all, I don’t know where my family is, my friend is separated from me, and I’m bleeding all over this person’s car.”

Ratliefe’s eye socket, according to Miami Herald, was fractured as a result.

“They didn’t care about anything, they weren’t concerned about anything but getting me to the hospital,” said Ratliefe.

Ratliefe said she is thankful for the help she received from strangers to get to the hospital.

“I’m bleeding all over this person’s car, and I’m starting to apologize to him, and he’s like, ‘You’re fine, and we got to get you to a hospital,'” said Ratliefe.

Another incident also took place on Sunday leading to the suspension of a second Fort Lauderdale Police officer after he shoved a 19-year-old protester while she was kneeling.

Danielle Casey, whose daughter was shoved by an officer said, “Your officer initiated a riot. Not a peace riot, not a peace protest. It resulted in violence.”

Video showed a fellow officer berating Steven Pohorence for using excessive force.

Records show that Pohorence has drawn his weapon 45 times.

14 arrests have resulted in Pohorence punching or using a stun gun.

He has since been relieved of duty pending the outcome of an investigation.

Multiple protesters said it was this incident that escalated the protest.

Protesters threw items at police, and law enforcers responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.

The mother of the second victim spoke out on her daughter’s behalf on Tuesday.

Fort Lauderdale Police said in a statement, “Our policy permits the use of less-lethal munition such as foam batons, and our intent is to disperse a crowd, not to cause injury.”

They have since opened an Internal Affairs investigation related to Sunday’s Protest. They ask anyone who was there on Sunday, and have pictures or video, to upload them at this link.

“Pictures and videos submitted will be used to review the event including actions by our officers,” said Casey Liening, Public Information Specialist for the Fort Lauderdale Police Department in an email.

“Anyone who wishes to speak with our Office of Internal Affairs, please call 954-828-6974,” she added.

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