G20 police shot rubber bullets, woman says
A 20-year-old environmental activist from B.C. is suing the Toronto Police Service, claiming she was hit by two rubber bullets during a G20 summit protest.
"I hit the ground. It's hard to describe how it feels getting shot," said Natalie Gray of Maple Ridge, B.C., about 40 kilometres east of Vancouver.
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Gray was one of about 150 protesters who marched on a police-approved route to a former Toronto film studio that was converted into a temporary detention centre on June 28, the final day of the G20 meetings.
The protest and police reaction were captured on video by the media.
Half an hour after protesters arrived at the jail, police moved in. As the demonstrators were shouting their slogans, a pair of unmarked vans suddenly appeared and screeched to a stop.
Some demonstrators panicked and ran, while others got angry and tried to hold their ground. Then two more police groups rushed in.
Fearing for her safety, Gray backed away down Eastern Avenue. But she said she suddenly saw a police officer drop to one knee — holding the biggest gun she had ever seen.
"And my friend hears a cop order coming from the back: 'The girl with the blue hair, the girl with the blue hair.' And that was when I got shot," said Gray, who had two blue ponytails sprouting from the top of her head.
As she tried to get up, uniformed police moved in, slammed her face into the pavement and knelt on her back.
"I have never been so terrified in my life," she said. "I immediately lost control of my bladder and the officers are yelling at me, 'Stop resisting, stop resisting.' And I'm saying, 'I'm not resisting. Please be gentle. Please be careful.'"
Gray was later charged with obstructing a peace officer, one of nearly 1,000 people arrested before or during the G20 summit.
Police claimed the shots were "muzzle blasts" — harmless blanks meant to scare protesters, not hurt them. They deny using rubber bullets.
But photographs of Gray's wounds taken by an emergency room doctor show she was indeed injured in the chest and arm.
"It hurt so much when it first happened and then nothing. And I was just kind of paralyzed. But as soon as I got shot, there was an incredible amount of pain in my abdomen."
Gray has hired high-profile human rights lawyer Clayton Ruby, who said he's launching a lawsuit against the police department.
Toronto lawyer David Midanik also said he has a client who is suing, claiming he was shot in the face by a rubber bullet. There is also reported to be a class-action suit in the works.
The police are advising anyone with an abuse allegation to file a report with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director.