SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — A Sacramento woman says she will likely never be able to see out of her left eye after she was hit by a projectile fired by police at a recent protest.
Shantania Love, better known as Nia, said she was at a Black Lives Matter protest on May 29 hoping to open people’s eyes to the realities of police brutality when she was injured.
“I didn’t expect it to end like this,” Love said.
Love, a mother of two, was one of thousands across the country moved to the streets that Friday night by the death of George Floyd at the hands of officers from the Minneapolis Police Department.
“I just had to come, had to come out here,” Love said.
The crowd initially came together at the South Sacramento Police station on Franklin Boulevard and 27th Street. That night they marched about one mile to the Highway 99 overpass at 12th Avenue.
“It was fun, people were dancing, laughing. There was an incident that occurred that kind of agitated the crowd, and once that happened they sent more officers out, and more officers, and we started saying ‘hey, don’t shoot,’” Love remembered. “I was actually walking away, I was away from the crowd. I turned around to see where my brother was at and when I turned around I got hit.”
Love said she dropped to the ground after being hit by what she believes was a rubber bullet.
“It does not feel like rubber, it felt like somebody shot me with a cannon,” she said.
One surgery and several doctors appointments later, Love said she was told she likely will never again see out of her left eye.
“It was heartbreaking being out there protesting and doing something that I believe in and this was the end result,” Love said.
Among her supporters Monday were three California Assembly members including San Jose’s Ash Kalra who called attention to a demonstration held on May 1 where people protesting the COVID-19 shutdown clashed with police.
“Those that were showing up because of stay-at-home orders due to COVID, some of them were accosting police officers and yet I didn’t see rubber bullets, or tear gas or batons then,” Kalra said. “Yet all of a sudden when people are rising up for Black Lives Matter — a cause that is 401 years in the making — we’re seeing this level of violence against peaceful protestors.”
Some details remain unclear about Nia’s case. Most notably, which law enforcement agency is responsible.
California Highway Patrol tells FOX40 they were not involved with Love’s injury. The Sacramento County Sheriff‘s Office said on Thursday, June 11 that none of its deputies “discharge(d) any less lethal options at 12th Ave and Hwy 99/30th St on Friday, May 29th.”
The Sacramento Police Department is also investigating saying :
The Sacramento Police Department is aware of the allegations being made in this incident. At this point we have not confirmed that the injuries were sustained due to a Sacramento Police Department use of force. On the night that this allegedly occurred, we had outside agencies assisting with the protest as well.
If the injuries are determined to have been sustained due to an SPD use of force, per department policy, the use of force will be reviewed.
“In order to get Justice for Nia Love, we need witnesses and we need video. If you were at the protest at around midnight on May 29 when the police were shooting rubber bullets, we need to hear from you,” Love’s attorney Lisa Bloom said.
Love’s attorney says they plan to file a formal complaint, as well as a lawsuit and want to see the officer who shot Love and any who allowed it to happen criminally charged.
Though Nia is holding out hope for her eye she accepts that change sometimes takes sacrifice.
“If that is the repercussion, I take it,” Love said. “It was very much worth it.”
Even with partial sight, she sees the big picture.
“I have little black daughters and I want this world to not be as hard for them as it is for us right now,” she explained.
A previous version of this story stated the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department told FOX40 their deputies were not involved with the injury to Shantania Love. The story has been updated to reflect the department’s latest statement.