KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — Two freelance photographers have filed a lawsuit alleging that police unlawfully shot them with rubber bullets during a protest over police racism in Wisconsin three years ago.
Alyssa Schukar and Scott Olson filed the lawsuit in federal court in Milwaukee on July 4. According to the lawsuit, Schukar and Olson were assigned to cover protests in Kenosha in August 2020 for the New York Times and Getty Images, respectively.
The protests erupted after a white police officer shot Jacob Blake, who is Black, seven times during a domestic disturbance. The shooting left Blake paralyzed.
The demonstrations went on for days. Kyle Rittenhouse, a teen who lived in nearby Illinois at the time, shot three men during a protest on Aug. 23, killing two of them. A jury acquitted Rittenhouse of homicide and reckless endangerment charges in November 2021 after he said he acted in self-defense. Rittenhouse was 17 years old on the night of the shootings.
Schukar and Olson were covering a protest two days after the Rittenhouse shootings when officers shot Schukar in the hand and Olson in the head with rubber bullets and sprayed them with chemical agents, according to the lawsuit. They allege police used excessive force in violation of their constitutional rights to free speech and due process, and they are seeking unspecified damages.
The lawsuit names Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth, former Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis, and 10 unnamed sheriff deputies and police officers as defendants.
“The journalists are availing themselves of the legal system, which is their right," said Attorney Samuel Hall, who is representing Kenosha County in the lawsuit. "We strongly disagree with the assertions made in the complaint and the county will defend itself resolutely.”