Protest lawsuits against Fort Wayne continue

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — In May 2020, racial injustice protest erupted in downtown Fort Wayne. Several hundred activists gathered in downtown Fort Wayne stopping traffic and eventually leading to police using gas to disperse the crowd.

From those days and weeks of protests came five lawsuits against the city.

Balin Brake

The first lawsuit against the city of Fort Wayne came from Balin Brake with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Indiana. Brake is suing the city after he lost an eye when an unidentified Fort Wayne Police officer fired a tear gas canister at his face during the downtown protests.

Soon after the Fort Wayne Police Department (FWPD) said officers said the protester was in the area after being ordered to leave and gas was deployed. They said the protester bent down to pick up the canister to throw it back at officers, and in the process, he was struck by another canister that skipped off the ground.

Currently, the lawsuit is in a discovery period ending March 2022.

No court date has been set.

Jalen Brown

An Indianapolis man is suing the City of Fort Wayne and an FWPD officer for their handling of the Summer 2020 protests, claiming his constitutional rights were violated.

Jalen Brown claims that he and his companion were leaving the protest when police officers got out of a truck in riot gear and started throwing smoke grenades at him. Brown was arrested and his charges were later dismissed.

Brown is suing the city for being wrongfully seized, detained, arrested and taken to jail, which violates his rights under the Fourth Amendment. He is also demanding damages totaling $25,000.

Attorneys for both parties are currently in a discovery period until September 2022.

Regin Chiappazzi

Regina Chiappazzi filed a lawsuit against the City of Fort Wayne and Allen County Sheriff David Gladieux after she says she was struck by a tear gas canister in the leg.

According to court documents, Chiappazzi and her husband were walking to their car when multiple tear gas canisters were fired in their path.

The city denies the charges and says her actions led to her injury.

Currently, the lawsuit is in a discovery period until July 2022. No trial date has been filed.

Jamison Darnell Chapman and Latina Evans

A Fort Wayne couple filed a lawsuit against the City of Fort Wayne after they were struck in traffic during the protests in May.

The lawsuit alleges that around 7 p.m. on May 30, 2020, Jamison Darnell Chapman and Latina Evans were stuck in their car near Berry Street and Clinton Street while police blocked the intersection during a racial injustice protest in downtown Fort Wayne. According to court documents, police shot tear gas at their car, which prevented Chapman, Evans and their dog from breathing. As a result, they were forced to exit the vehicle.

The couple says after they got out of the car they were pepper-sprayed in the face at close range by an officer and then arrested.

In total Chapman spent 16 days in jail and all his charges were eventually dropped. The lawsuit seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages, and other costs and fees and “just and proper relief.”

The City of Fort Wayne denied allegations.

A discovery period is scheduled to last until June 2022. No trial date has been set.

Jazmin Morales

Jazmin Morales of Marion filed a lawsuit against FWPD Chief Steve Reed and nine officers who were not fully identified in the complaint. The complaint said that she was trying to leave the downtown area when she was arrested for refusal to leave an emergency area.

All criminal charges against Morales were dismissed. Two months later she filed a lawsuit to receive compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorney fees.

The chief and the other officers denied the charges.

No trial date has been set and the lawsuit is currently in a discovery period until September 2022.

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