Police officers launch flashbang grenades to disperse demonstrators during a protest in Salem, Oregon, on Sunday, May 31, 2020.

A jury has awarded Eleaqia McCrae $1.5 million in a lawsuit she filed against Salem in 2020.

McCrae, a Black woman, sued the city and the Salem Police Department, accusing officers of violating her civil rights, assaulting her and intentionally targeting Black people with deadly force during a protest following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

She attended a peaceful protest on May 31, 2020. They chanted and marched to and from the Capitol into downtown Salem. 

But after nightfall, people unrelated to the peaceful march came in from side streets and began throwing objects into the crowd, McCrae’s attorney, Kevin Brague, said in the lawsuit. Soon the peaceful demonstrators were met by Salem police officers in “full militarized gear” with a SWAT team and armored vehicle.

McCrae said she, her sister and friend linked arms and silently knelt at the front of the march. Suddenly, police sirens blared. McCrae said she turned around to leave but was shot twice with rubber bullets. 

Protesters chant "Hands Up, Don't Shoot," while blocking traffic on 99E Business in Salem, Oregon, on Sunday, May 31, 2020.

She later accused Officer Robert Johnston of shooting “stinger” or “skip” rounds using a 40mm launcher at demonstrators, according to the federal lawsuit.

Salem officials at one point during court filings last year alleged McCrae was struck by an object thrown at police by another protester and not by an object from an officer.

The city, through lawyers Gerald Warren and Jennifer Gaddis, in June 2021 said McCrae’s injures, if any, were due to her own “negligent conduct by failing to disperse the area when the protests were no longer peaceful.”

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