Iowa Man Sues Nebraska Sheriff After Pepper Ball Blinded Him

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — An Iowa man is suing an eastern Nebraska county, its sheriff and several deputies, saying their lack of training led one of the deputies to shoot him in the eye with a pepper ball during a protest last year.

Adam Keup, 24, of Council Bluffs, Iowa, filed the federal lawsuit last week against Sarpy County, the Omaha World-Herald reported. The lawsuit also names Sheriff Jeff Davis and four deputies as defendants and alleges that Davis handed out the pepper balls to his deputies before the May 29, 2020, protest in Omaha without providing any training on how to use them or on crowd-control tactics.

The protest was among dozens that erupted across the country in the days after the death of George Floyd when Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes even after Floyd stopped moving and pleaded for air. Chauvin was sentenced earlier this year to 22 1/2 years in prison.

Keup has said he went to the gathering to watch his partner take photos of the protest. Keup said he was standing on a sidewalk about 100 feet from protesters and law enforcement when four Sarpy County deputies in riot gear approached them, and one of the deputies shot him in the eye and shoulder with pepper balls.

Keup says deputies then took him behind a police line and poured water into his eye to try to flush it out, not knowing that water flushing is not recommended for treating pepper balls exploding into an eye. The lawsuit says the water only worsened the chemical agent embedded in Keup's eye, causing scar tissue that left the eye blinded.

The lawsuit says the county and its law enforcement agents violated Keup's constitutional rights and seeks an unspecified amount in damages.