The case of a female protester shot in the breast at point-blank range with a pepper ball launcher by a Dallas cop is getting a fresh look.
A photographer on the scene May 30 snapped Jantzen Verastique, 32, reeling from the impact as the officer kept the launcher trained on her from a few feet away.
“I felt like my chest was on fire,” Verastique told the Dallas Morning News. “I didn’t know what that weapon was. I was terrified.”
The incident took place as an estimated 700 people marched through downtown Dallas on the afternoon to protest police brutality and the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police.
The man who took the photo of Verastique getting shot, Chris Rusanowsky of ZUMA press, was one of 74 people arrested that day for “inciting a riot.”
When Rusanowsky told cops he was a member of the press, the arresting officer allegedly replied, “Yeah, yeah, press, press. You’re going to jail,” according to a statement by Rusanowsky to his own lawyer.
Video of the incident (which contains strong language) taken by a passerby and obtained by the Dallas Morning News helps flesh out the incident. It shows Verastique lying on her stomach as the sergeant tells her she is under arrest. She can be seen yelling that she cannot breathe before screaming in pain.
Verastique and Rusanowsky both say they arrived on a grassy hill near a highway access road to highway I-35 before police rushed to surround protesters who were helping a woman who had fallen to the ground.
Verastique says she yelled at the police to stop. That’s when the officer, who has been identified as Sgt. Roger Rudloff, told her she was interfering and shot her with a pepper ball, witnesses told the Dallas Morning News.
Pepper balls are projectiles full of pepper spray, a chemical agent that causes a burning sensation and can lead to temporary blindness.
Police departments in multiple U.S. cities have reportedly used crowd-control projectiles at close range during the sustained nationwide protests in support of Black Lives Matter and other causes.
Rudloff and the Dallas Police Department declined comment to the Dallas Morning News.
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