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La Mesa Police investigating incident of protester shot with bean bag round

Posted at 7:19 PM, Jun 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-03 22:27:24-04

LA MESA, Calif. (KGTV) — La Mesa's police chief said the incident where a woman was shot in the head with a bean bag round during last weekend's protest is under investigation.

LMPD Chief Walt Vasquez said during a press conference that the officer involved has been identified and that the incident was being investigated.

Mayor Mark Arapostathis said another press conference would be held to follow up on the investigation.

"The incident is under review and will be addressed at a future press conference. We can say that it was absolutely critical that there be accountability for this injury and there will be," Arapostathis told reporters.

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When asked whether the officer who fired the bean bag round that struck 59-year-old Leslie Furcron in the head was on leave, Vasquez only said the officer was not on duty Wednesday night.

Furcron has been hospitalized since she was struck in the head with a bean bag round on Saturday during the demonstration at La Mesa Police Department headquarters. She and hundreds of other people were protesting police violence and the death of George Floyd.

Furcron's son, Ahmed, said after the press conference that the department's response was not enough.

"We want to know what's going on. My mom is 59-years-old. She didn't break any laws. She wasn't being violent or nothing. We want answers. She was shot between the eyes. There's no way, it's not even possible he missed the shot," Ahmed told reporters.

RELATED: La Mesa woman hospitalized following protests, family says

The police department was immediately under scrutiny after how authorities addressed the largely peaceful protest.

Vasquez said that once officers deemed the gathering an unlawful assembly, they began to use measures to disperse protesters from the area, including tear gas and bean bag rounds. He added that officers are trained to aim towards a person's torso when using bean bag rounds.

Though when asked why no officers rushed to Furcron's aid, Vasquez said officers did not make it to the area in time.

"At the time of the incident, we were engaged in an unlawful assembly and it was a riotous situation. So when the information came out at that time ... to see exactly what happened and with our opportunity to get to her. Which was difficult at first, and by then she was already taken," Vasquez said.

Vasquez added that anyone with video of Furcron's injury and other reported incidents of people being struck with bean bag rounds during the protest should send those videos to the department.