Lakers fan speaks out after alleging he lost eye to police projectile during title celebration

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- For many, October 11, 2020 was a night to remember. It was the first time the Los Angeles Lakers won an NBA championship since 2010.

But for William Gonzalez, that night is now associated with severe trauma and losing one of his eyes.

Gonzalez said he was celebrating the big win with his brother. He said he was standing in front of a Starbucks near Staples Center eating when the Los Angeles Police Department started firing foam bullets toward the crowd.

"I got hit in the head and my instinct was to turn around to see what it was. I turned around, and I got hit in the eye," he said.

His lawyer Kristen Mason said Gonzalez now suffers from traumatic head injuries, in addition to loss of his eyesight, that will likely affect him for the rest of his life.

"He's going through extensive treatments right now to put him back to the circumstances just to where he can function," said Mason.

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A Lakers fan is suing the city of Los Angeles, alleging he lost his right eye to a police projectile fired during the celebration of the NBA franchise's 2020 championship game victory over the Miami Heat.

Gonzalez and his brother Michael filed a lawsuit last week against the city of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, the Los Angeles Police Department and LAPD Chief Michel Moore. The City Attorney's Office is not commenting on the lawsuit, and L.A. County said it does not comment on pending litigation.

LAPD issued the following statement:

"The department is aware of the incident and investigators have gone through video but have not located any video evidence that depicted the incident. The Department can not provide any additional information due to the ongoing litigation.

"There is no bodycam evidence identified."

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Thousands of fans gathered outside the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles to celebrate the Lakers winning their 17th NBA championship.

That night, about 30 buildings were damaged with graffiti and other vandalism and eight police officers were injured. Seventy-six people were arrested when the LAPD declared an unlawful assembly.

Mason said the methods the LAPD used that night were against the department's own policy.

"Their own standards for the city of Los Angeles is to use nonlethal below the waist on individuals," Mason said. "The fact that this hit him once, whizzing by his head, but second to hit him again in the face, demonstrates that these guidelines that they have are not being followed. We want them to be followed."

The brothers are seeking unspecified damages claiming civil rights violations, excessive force and failure to train and denial of medical care.

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