Arkansas man injured during Floyd protest sues troopers

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas attorney who was hospitalized after he was struck by a beanbag fired by police during a protest at the state Capitol over George Floyd’s killing filed a lawsuit Friday against the head of state police and several troopers.

Don Cook’s lawsuit names state Trooper Ryan Wingo, who fired the beanbag, and state police director Col. Bill Bryant, accusing them and other troopers of violating his constitutional rights. The protest occurred days after Floyd had been killed by a Minneapolis police officer who knelt on his neck.

Cook was struck in the face by the beanbag, which was fired after state police ordered crowds at the Capitol to disperse, according to the lawsuit. Cook suffered serious injuries to his face, jaw and teeth, and the beanbag had to be removed during emergency surgery, the suit said.

The lawsuit said the use of the beanbag was unnecessary since he was already walking away from the Capitol and that it caused Cook “great injury, anxiety, stress, mental anguish, pain and suffering.”

A spokesman for Arkansas State Police declined to comment, citing the agency’s longstanding practice of not commenting on pending litigation.

Critics have questioned the use of the beanbags and other “less lethal” uses of force on protesters during Floyd protests around the country. Their use has prompted similar lawsuits by protesters in other states who have been injured. A protester injured by a rubber bullet during a Floyd protest filed a lawsuit last week against police in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The city of Spokane, Washington, this week paid $210,000 to a woman who was struck in the throat by a beanbag fired by police during a Black Lives Matter Protest in 2020.

Cook’s lawsuit, which was filed in federal court, seeks unspecified damages and a declaration that the troopers violated the attorney’s constitutional rights.