La Mesa

La Mesa Woman Blinded in One Eye During 2020 Protests Settles With City for $10 Million

The incident took place when Leslie Furcron was attending a police brutality protest in 2020

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A woman shot with a projectile and blinded in one eye during the George Floyd protests in East County three years ago has reached a financial settlement with the city of La Mesa.

The city of La Mesa settled with Leslie Furcron, who was shot with a projectile on May 30, 2020, for $10 million.

Peaceful Protests, Followed by Violence

The protests in La Mesa Saturday first formed across the street from the La Mesa Police Department station. About 45 minutes later, the group split up and marched down the sidewalks of the city. Hundreds joined in on the march.

As the march progressed, demonstrators – many holding up signs – made their way to Baltimore Drive and tried to walk onto Interstate 8. California Highway Patrol officials blocked entry to the freeway, but the crowds broke through lines and walked on both sides of I-8. Police and CHP officers diverted traffic.

As night fell, the energy of the peaceful demonstration drastically shifted. Tension between officers and demonstrations escalated outside LMPD headquarters and police declared unlawful assembly.

Photos: La Mesa Protest on May 30, 2020

Some people began throwing rocks and bottles at officers. Police deployed tear gas, flashbangs, and what the department deemed “less lethal” projectiles at the crowd.

One woman, Leslie Furcron, 59, was struck in the head by a round of bean bags deployed by LMPD. She is now in a medically-induced coma, and her incident has also left local activists demanding answers and change in policing.

Tasha Williamson responds to a question during a La Mesa briefing.

As the night unfolded, looters and vandals joined the gathering. They tagged buildings in La Mesa, smashed out windows, looted businesses and set fire to cars and buildings, including two banks.

The next day, the banks were still smoldering; shards of glass and trash littered the streets. Hundreds of La Mesa residents showed up with brooms and paint to clean up their community.

The mayor of La Mesa, Mark Araposthathis, said the city had become “ground zero (in San Diego) for the region’s outpouring and demands for change in law enforcement practices.”

Araposthathis said the looters and vandals hijacked the demonstration Saturday night “in a concerted effort to burn down the city.”

The incident took place when Furcron was attending a police brutality protest. The protest was in response to the death of George Floyd underneath the knee of a Minneapolis police officer and an incident involving a La Mesa police officer who made a controversial arrest of a Black man at a nearby trolley station.

Furcron was placed in a medically induced coma for several days afterward and permanently lost the vision in one eye as a result of her injuries.

In a statement sent to NBC 7, Furcron’s attorney Dante Pride stated:

“Ms. Leslie Furcron suffered horrific, life-changing injuries at the hands of the LMPD under circumstances that were criminal at worst and grossly negligent at best. The city of La Mesa has taken the first steps in helping the community move forward, by providing some financial relief for the damage its officer caused to its community member. 

Upon first blush, the $10 million settlement seems like something significant and is perhaps the largest non-death excessive use-of-force settlement in San Diego County history. But in context of the real harm done to Ms. Furcron — the gruesomeness of which played out on Facebook Live for the entire community to witness — $10 million feels pyrrhic. It is a victory, but for victims of police misconduct. These “victories” cannot continue to be only monetary. Justice must also be reformative, demonstrative and, in some instances, penal. Ms. Furcron’s full cup of justice includes holding the individual officer accountable for his egregious conduct and changing the use-of-force policies regarding these dangerous projectiles. We look forward to engaging with the city of La Mesa, its legislators and the community to this end. 

Finally, Ms. Furcron extends a tremendous debt of gratitude and thanks to the community for truly saving her life and for the tremendous outpouring of support. Although it was just her on the pleadings, the community made sure we knew that we were never alone.”

In a statement to NBC7, the city of La Mesa city manager Greg Humora said, “The city is glad that there is resolution to this very unfortunate incident.”

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