The New York City Police Department has beensuedfor having allegedly injured demonstrators at aprotestover the death ofEricGarnerbyusingmilitary-gradesoundcannonsto disperse them.
According to a complaint filed on Thursday night against theNYPDand Commissioner William Bratton, five plaintiffs suffered ear damage and other injuries after being targeted at an early morningproteston Dec. 5, 2014 in midtown Manhattan by one of theNYPD's Long Range Acoustic Devices, or LRADs.
Police can use the devices as loudspeakers, or to disperse crowds through volumes that can top 120 decibels, louder than a sandblaster or power saw.
The plaintiffs Anika Edrei, Shay Horse, James Craven, Keegan Stephan and Michael Nusbaum included photojournalists, a photographer, a graduate student and an activist.
They had beenprotesting a grand jury's decision not to indict a white police officer whose chokehold onGarner, an unarmed black man, led toGarner's July 2014 death.
According to the complaint, the plaintiffs suffered injuries including migraines, nausea, and persistent ringing in the ears afterNYPDofficers subjected them at close range to the "piercing"soundof an LRAD model 100X.
They said such "indiscriminate" and "gratuitous" use of force illegally targeted peopleprotesting lawfully as well as unlawfully, and gave police officers "unbridled" and unconstitutional authority to suppress their free speech.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
AnNYPDspokesman said in an email: "The Long Range Acoustic Deviceisa safe and effective communication tool the department uses legally, during disorderly demonstrations. Itisused consistent with manufacturer's recommendations."
A spokesman for the New York City Law Department, which defends the city in lawsuits, said: "All the allegations and relevant facts will be reviewed once the suitisserved."
According to the complaint, theNYPDbegan employing LRADs during the 2004 Republican National Convention, but only last year beganusingthem regularly atprotests.
LRADs are made by LRAD Corp, which said the 100X can "easily overcome engines, sirens and noisy crowds to ensure every messageisheard and understood." The San Diego-based companyisnot a defendant in the lawsuit.