By Miriam Raftery
Photo by Chris Stone, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association
June 20, 2020 (La Mesa) – The attorney for Leslie Furcron, the woman shot in the head with a beanbag projectile May 30 outside the La Mesa Police station, has characterized her as a “peaceful” protester. A police incident narration claims she threw an object at Sheriff’s officers before she was fired at from 40 yards and struck in the head with the beanbag. While it is unclear on her cell phone video whether she threw an object or not, what is clear is that she, or someone narrating the video taken on her cell phone, advocated burning down the police station while she was in the car driving to the station.
Furcron, a grandmother who lives in Lemon Grove according to the Registrar of Voters records, suffered serious injury. She was hospitalized in an induced coma and later released, but has lost her vision in one eye, according to her attorney.
Speaking to media after her release, Furcron stated, “I’m a productive member of society, I go to San Diego City College and I had a job as a care provider, but now I will need to get help to get cared for. This is not what I had planned – I’ve lived here in La Mesa for three years now. I’m a mother, grandmother, and great grandmother and a law-abiding citizen.” (Note: The Registrar of Voters lists her address in Lemon Grove.)
Police procedure requires that beanbags only be aimed at the torso, around the midsection of the body – never at the head. It is unclear why Furcron was struck in the head, though her lawyer has contended she was targeted for calling police “murderers.”
Some have suggested that since she just arrived at the station minutes before being struck, perhaps she was unaware that the situation had escalated into a dangerous confrontation.
However, the video makes clear that she clearly was aware of going into a dangerous situation and further, she or whoever’s voice is heard on her live-streamed video may have incited violence including advocating burning down the police station.
A police timeline confirmed by multiple media reports indicate that shortly before Furcron appeared at the police station, city hall had been set on fire, along with the American legion flag. Rocks were being thrown at police vehicles and at the police station, rocks, bottles and burning Molotov cocktail bottle bombs had been hurled at officers and/or the station. Demonstrators had climbed onto a police Bearcat armored vehicle and broken windows.
Furcron’s video begins as she is driving into downtown La Mesa. She, or someone in her vehicle, can be heard stating, “We’re in a riot in La Mesa!” She, or whoever is narrating, talks about [tear] “gas everywhere” and “eyes stinging.”
She repeatedly calls police “motherf*ckers” and “murderers, “ stating, “People are pissed.”
She then states, “They are trying to burn the La Mesa Police station down…Burn that motherf*cker down!”
The narrator believed to be Furcron blames police for the death of George Floyd and others, stating, “Y’all got the foot on the neck! Y’all killing our people….Look at all the people out here ‘cause they trying to burn the police station down…I wish the police would apprehend me today.”
As she pulls up to the station, she states, “Look at all the cops up there…they ready to pop bullets out there.” She parks and says she’s going to the station, describing herself as a “mad motherfucking black” woman, adding, “Police are doing too much mother*cking killing. Tear all this shit up!”
She shouts out the window of her vehicle repeatedly, “Murderers! The police are murderers!”
As she walks in, the video captures the sights and sounds of multiple rounds of projectiles being fired. “They’re murderers. They’re throwing tear gas. The murderers are all over,” she or whoever is narrating the video states.”
She questions, “Did you see them throw that?” but it’s unclear if she is referring to police throwing something or protesters throwing objects at police. “They’re getting ready to shoot again!” She shouts.
Around 10 and a half minutes into her video, the footage shows Furcron drinking from a gold-colored tall can, then raising an arm, but it does not show her hands. It is unclear whether she threw or dropped the can, or anything else.
Within seconds she is struck in the head; the cell phone is dropped and soon goes dark, but voices around her can be heard screaming as people in the crowd rush to her aid. Someone says they got her cell phone. According to the police timeline, she is carried out by protesters and rushed to a hospital.
View her cell phone video here (warning, graphic language and images):
ECM has asked the La Mesa Police Department to release surveillance video outside the Police Station and body camera footage of the incident.
La Mesa Police Chief Walt Vasquez issued this statement: La Mesa Police Chief Walt Vasquez released the following statement Wednesday regarding the incident: “I am sincerely thankful that Ms. Furcron has been released from the hospital and is able to now heal at home with her family. I pray that she has a speedy and full recovery. I can assure Ms. Furcron, her family, and the public that this unfortunate incident will be fully investigated, to include an in-depth look at our crowd control practices. The men and women of the La Mesa Police Department work tirelessly to provide quality and professional police services for all members of our community. Our hope is that we will all come together to heal the wounds, nurture a culture of open communication, and make the City of La Mesa a better and safer place to live.”