Lakers fan’s eyeball ‘exploded’ after he was hit with police projectiles during ‘rowdy’ post-NBA Final celebrations that saw a photographer lose eight teeth when he was also struck in the face by the LAPD
- William Gonzalez, 22, had to have extensive reconstruction surgery on Monday after he was hit in the face late on Sunday night near the Staples Center
- Following the Lakers win over the Miami Heat, Los Angeles fans rushed to the Staples Center to celebrate their victory in the NBA Finals
- LAPD declared the celebration an unlawful gathering and cited destroyed storefronts and officers who had bottles thrown at them
- Doctors say that Gonzalez will no longer be able to see out of right eye and recommended that he have it removed to not hinder his good eye
- At least two other people were hospitalized on Sunday night with head injuries in connection to police and the festivities near the Staples Center
A man celebrating the Lakers’ NBA title in downtown Los Angeles on Sunday night was hit in the face with a hard-foam police projectile that shattered his eye socket and ‘exploded’ his eyeball, doctors shared.
William Gonzalez, 22, had to have extensive reconstruction surgery on Monday – just a day after his brother Michael rushed to cover his bleeding face with a Kobe Bryant jersey he had worn.
‘My brother … grabbed me and said “Run!’ because they were still shooting,’ Gonzalez told the Los Angeles Times.
Following the Lakers win over the Miami Heat, Los Angeles fans rushed to the Staples Center to celebrate their victory in the NBA Finals.
William Gonzalez, 22, had to have extensive reconstruction surgery on Monday after he was hit in the face late on Sunday night near the Staples Center. LAPD officers can be seen clearing the area
A number of people were injured during the celebrations, which the LAPD declared was an unlawful gathering as storefronts were destroyed and officers reported having bottles thrown at them.
Dr Linden Doss, Gonzalez’s eye surgeon, said that the results were devastating and extensive. He said Gonzalez would never see out of his right eye and will probably need to have it removed as to avoid the threat of losing vision in his left eye through what the doctor called sympathetic ophthalmia – when the immune system attacks both eyes if one is traumatized beyond repair but remaining in the body.
Gonzalez was operated on at the California Hospital Medical Center by Doss and Dr David Samimi, who said that the patient’s injury was ‘so severe that the best-case scenario is that he still gets to keep the eye in his head without any sight whatsoever.’
Dr Samimi added: ‘But in all likelihood, we are going to have to remove the eye. The eye itself just kind of exploded, and the tissue on the inside of the eye was extruded out.’
Following the Lakers win over the Miami Heat, Los Angeles fans rushed to the Staples Center to celebrate their victory in the NBA Finals. LAPD declared the celebration an unlawful gathering a
The brothers shared that they had just gotten food at a taco truck when Michael sat down to eat on the curb as his brother headed into the crowd to watch ‘everybody have fun.’
‘Out of nowhere I just heard shots,’ William said, unable to remember much of what happened next.
His 21-year-old brother said that he couldn’t see much when the commotion began. He then heard his brother start screaming for him.
‘I kept hearing my name getting called out and I was running to the voice,’ Michael said. ‘It wasn’t that far, but with people running everywhere it made it hard for me to find him.’
Michael jumped into action as soon as he saw his brother.
‘I immediately took off my Lakers jersey to put on his eye to support it and stop it from bleeding, but it wasn’t helping at all,’ Michael said. ‘The shirt was full of blood.’
As the brothers tried to flee the scene, they came across a line of California Highway Patrol officers. The officers initially pushed them back, the brothers claimed, only to then direct them to another area where they waited to be picked up by an ambulance. The pair said that they waited for roughly half an hour.
At least two other people were hospitalized on Sunday night with head injuries in connection to the festivities near the Staples Center. Part-time photographer Manuel Barrientos, 25, lost eight teeth and part of his lip when he was shot in the mouth, according to his family.
At least two other people were hospitalized on Sunday night with head injuries in connection to police and the festivities near the Staples Center
An unidentified third man shared that he and his partner had been watching the action and staying away from ‘the particularly rowdy people out there.’ It was then that he was hit in the face, which caused him to have a laceration across his right cheek and a fractured bone around his right eye.
Sunday’s injuries add to the list of people who have been hurt by hard-foam and ‘less lethal’ projectiles used by the LAPD, who claim that the weapons effectively disperse crowds that grow violent.
But claims by police that the rounds don’t ‘penetrate the skin’ and that officers don’t aim for heads are under scrutiny as evidence of injuries and video clips suggest otherwise.
Current policy dictates that the foam rounds are to only be aimed at the belt-line of a targeted individual, and not fired into crowds. They are also not to be
The hard-foam rounds were used heavily during Black Lives Matter protests and demonstrations over the summer. In the largest suit pertaining to the matter, a local chapter of BLM is hoping to obtain a permanent injunction barring officers from using the weapons for crowd control. A lawyer representing the plaintiffs in that particular case has commented that the rounds are used to ‘incapacitate’ crowds and not control them.