Protesters Sue NYPD Over Sound Weapon

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( — March 6, 2016) — During the December 2014 protest of a grand jury decision to not indict the officer responsible for killing Eric Garner, NYPD deployed a new acoustic weapon to disperse the protesters. Five people, including photojournalists and protesters are suing the City of New York, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, and the two officers responsible for operating the device, the NY Daily News reported.

In a complaint, filed Thursday, the plaintiffs claim they have suffered permanent hearing damage and loss of balance caused by the sonic weapon used by the NYPD officers. The plaintiffs claim the NYPD violated their civil rights guaranteed by the First and Fourth Amendments of the United States Constitution.

In addition to being 20 – 30 decibels louder than bullhorns and vehicle-based P.A. systems, the LRAD speaker used by the NYPD is also up to 6x louder and can overcome engines, sirens and noisy crowds to ensure every message is heard and understood.

According to the manufacturer, LRAD Corporation, acoustic systems safely broadcast highly intelligible messages, warnings, notifications, instructions and commands from close range to up to 3 kilometers away. However, the weapon is able to cause permanent hearing damage and loss of balance, the manufacture warns, which the plaintiffs described.

“It was a really piercing noise immediately. I could feel it beyond my eardrums and down my ear canal,” Keegan Stephen, a plaintiff in the case told Russia Today. Explaining what happened during demonstrations, he said the officers stopped by the end of the block.

“The protest continued and I went with it for a while, then I left. I left the vicinity. I was far away from all the noise of the demonstration and I still had this incredible ringing in my ears. I couldn’t sleep that night. The ringing kept me up all night,” he said accusing the use of the NYPD sound cannon for his condition.

“it’s pretty hard to describe,” he continued. “it’s like a siren but drastically louder and more painful,” he described.

The NYPD have yet to comment on the plaintiff’s claim regarding the ongoing lawsuit.