Florida official apologizes to woman hit by rubber bullet during BLM protest

Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Ben Sorensen reached out to LaToya Ratlieff on Wednesday, news outlets reported.

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A Florida woman who was shot in the face by a rubber bullet during a Black Lives Matter demonstration last year has received an apology from a city official.

Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Ben Sorensen reached out to LaToya Ratlieff on Wednesday, news outlets reported.

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“I just felt like it was appropriate to reach out and see how she’s doing and talk with her about working together to improve police reform,” Sorensen said.

Ratlieff told news outlets it was the first time anyone from the city has said they are sorry for what happened to her last May when she was struck in the eye by a bullet fired by a Fort Lauderdale police officer as a peaceful protest over the killing of George Floyd quickly escalated. Floyd, a Black man, was killed while being arrested by a white police officer in Minnesota last year. His death set off protests around the country.

Black Lives Matter Protests Continue Around Detroit
Demonstrators protest against police brutality for a second day following a night of confrontations between protesters and riot police on May 30, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images)

Ratlieff, 35, suffered a broken eye socket, which required months of treatment.

“I still have some vision issues, specifically some of my upper vision. I still have trouble driving at night. I’m still thankful because it could’ve been me losing my entire eye,” Ratlieff said.

Since the incident, Ratlieff had been asking the City of Fort Lauderdale for an apology.

“There was a sense of humanity in there and a sense of kindness that I felt with Commissioner Sorensen that was very welcoming. This is the first time, especially a heartfelt apology, like Commissioner Sorenson did today,” Ratlieff said.

She said she spoke with Sorenson about police reforms and he updated her on actions the city has taken since the protests.

“We’ve established a 24/7 hotline for concerns, complaints that members of the community can call at any time. Those were just some of the components,” Sorensen said.

Read More: Detroit city council approves funds for lawsuit against BLM protesters

The investigation into Ratlieff’s incident is ongoing.

Ratlieff’s spokesman Evan Ross told the South Florida SunSentinel she has not ruled out filing a lawsuit against the city, though she’s currently more focused on working with the city on police reform.

“Her priority is reform,” Ross said. “It’s always been reform.”

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