Pregnant Woman Dornella Conner Loses Eye in Ferguson, Missouri Police Encounter
A pregnant woman has lost one eye and is partially blind in the other after an encounter with police during protests in Ferguson, Missouri early Tuesday morning.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports 24-year-old Dornella Conner of St. Louis, who is several months pregnant, made the short trip to Ferguson with her boyfriend to participate in peaceful demonstrations against a grand jury’s decision to not indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown on August 9.
The victim’s father, Donnell Conner, told NBC News that his daughter was a passenger in her boyfriend’s car when they stopped to fill up at a Ferguson gas station at about 2 a.m. Conner said her daughter went to Ferguson “just to be there.”
“Like the young people do, in support, like kids do, but no violence, not looting,” he told the Post-Dispatch. “She just wanted to be there.”
“I wasn’t looting or anything. I was just out with my boyfriend riding around, just respecting Mike Brown,” the victim told KMOV.
According to St. Louis County Police, a detective and three other county police officers were in a car at a gas station in the 10600 block of New Halls Ferry Road where some 20 to 30 people had gathered. The police car was flashing its emergency lights and the detective was wearing clothes that indicated he was an officer. When he got out of the car, a white sedan sped towards him. Fearing for his life, the detective fired a less-lethal bean bag round at the approaching vehicle, shattering the front passenger side window and sending pellets and shattered glass flying into Conner’s face.
But Conner claims her boyfriend, 21-year-old De’Angelas Lee of Black Jack, was trying to maneuver his car around the officers, who had pulled up in multiple vehicles and blocked theirs from leaving.
“They blocked us from the side and the back,” she told KMOV.
“If a vehicle is coming at you, wouldn’t you take aim at the person who is driving the vehicle, not at the passenger’s side?” Donnell Conner asked during an NBC News interview. The father said the victim is “trying to stay strong” and harbors “no ill feelings” toward the detective who injured her.
The elder Conner added that police could have handled the situation differently.
“For my daughter to be shot in the face and lose her eye is uncalled for,” he told NBC News.
After the bean bag round was fired, Lee sped away from the scene. The car was stopped at a police checkpoint in neighboring Jennings, and Conner was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. Lee was arrested and charged with second-degree assault on a law enforcement officer.
Dornella Conner has been fitted with a prosthetic eye and is having difficulty seeing in her remaining eye. She is optimistic that the detective who injured her will face justice for his actions.
“I will have justices for what they did too me but I happy im alive thank u Jesus love u everyone,” she wrote in a Facebook post.