College student who suffered eye injury during protest sues Denver

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Michael Acker suffered an eye injury while protesting in Denver. He says it was caused by a police projectile. (Credit: Michael Acker)

DENVER (KDVR) — A college student who was struck in the eye with a projectile during the Denver protests in May is suing the City and County of Denver.

“One minute I’m standing there, and then I hear a ‘thunk,'” said Michael Acker, 20. “I rip off my gas mask, and blood just goes pouring all over the concrete.”

Acker said he believes he was struck with a 40mm sponge grenade that was fired by a police officer on the scene. Acker said he wasn’t doing anything at the time that would have provoked the shooting.

“It really felt like somebody had just snuck up on me with a baseball bat,” he said. “My ears were ringing. I can’t really get my bearings at all.  With the adrenaline and stuff, I didn’t really feel a whole lot of pain…but when I got back to the bench, I couldn’t open my eye really.”

Acker said he was wearing a gas mask during the protest, and one of the glass eyeholes shattered when he was struck.  Acker said he was treated in the emergency room, where a doctor pulled glass and debris from his eye.

“Had I not been wearing the mask, it probably would have fractured my skull and would have gone into my eye. I would have been a pirate,” he said.

“Denver’s actions, while unconstitutional in any context, are even more pernicious here because the police violence and brutality was specifically targeted at peaceful demonstrators protesting police violence and brutality,” attorney Andy McNulty said.

FOX31 has reached out to the City and County of Denver for comment and received the following response:

“Due to the pending lawsuit and open Internal Affairs investigation, it would be inappropriate for the Department to comment, at this time.”

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