Wi Spa protest: Demonstrators file claims against city of LA, alleging excessive force by police

KOREATOWN, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Attorneys representing 10 injured demonstrators have filed claims against the city of Los Angeles and its police department, alleging excessive force by LAPD officers during protests outside a Koreatown spa.

The demonstrations and counter-demonstrations over transgender rights at Wi Spa occurred on consecutive weekends outside the establishment in the 2700 Wilshire Boulevard.

One of the plaintiffs, Vishal Singh, said he was covering the protests when he was struck by a police officer.

"I was trying to cross the street, to continue documenting," Singh told reporters outside LAPD headquarters on Tuesday. "LAPD pushed me to the sidewalk as I was filming. They took a baton and smashed my camera hand, which ended up fracturing it."

The protests stemmed from a video that circulated online earlier this month, in which an irate customer complained to the staff at Wi Spa about a transgender woman's exposed genitalia in the women's section of the spa.

Dozens arrested after LAPD sends alert warning of unlawful assembly during Koreatown spa protests
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Dueling protests over transgender rights outside a Koreatown spa Saturday prompted police to send a mass alert warning of an unlawful assembly.


Police made arrests and fired non-lethal projectiles to disperse an unruly crowd.

Some of the protesters at the news conference claimed they were shot by less-than-lethal rounds at close range. According to the LAPD, that protocol has been revised since a federal court order asked the department to stop using rubber bullets.

"Once again we're faced with filing numerous claims by protesters," attorney Humberto Guizar said at the news conference. "Why? Because they were shot at, they were hit."

Under the guidelines of the federal court order, LAPD officers are restricted from using 40-mm and 37-mm projectile launchers in public unless they have proper training and are giving individuals a verbal warning to disperse and a reasonable opportunity to comply.

The order also states that officers cannot shoot projectiles at a person's head, neck, face, eyes, or spine. Police are allowed to fire less-lethal rounds if a person or officer is under attack.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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