Seattle blogger sues city of Seattle over May Day ‘blast ball’ injury to face

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SEATTLE --  A Seattle man is now suing the city of Seattle after a piece of shrapnel from a "blast ball" hit him in the face on May Day.

Sam Levine showed Q13 News the area on his face where doctors had to remove an inch of shrapnel that left a hole in his face.

“If it had hit me in the neck, I would have died,” Levine said.

Levine is a software engineer but also an avid blogger. He has filmed and reported on May Day protests in the past but this year it ended badly when a police blast ball landed inches away from him.

Levine says from his perspective there was no imminent danger to police officers or to the public when an officer threw a blast ball into the crowd. Levine’s video shows him behind some protesters when the blast ball came flying toward him.

“I’m definitely 40 feet away,” Levine said.

That's when Levine captures a blast ball flying toward him on camera.

“I saw a bright flash of light, the left side of my face went numb, I went down. I wasn’t sure if my face was gone,” Levine said.

Three months later, Levine says, he has a small scar and an uneven smile so he is now suing the city of Seattle.

“Obviously, I would like to be compensated for the injury I received but I also want to force Seattle to change its policy,” Levine said.

When officers threw the blast ball into the crowd, Levine claims it was directly targeting him.

“There was no justification for the force that was used,” Levine said.

The lawsuit comes after the City Council questioned the Seattle Police Department this week about its use of blast balls.

“Our preference is not to use any,” Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole said.

On Tuesday, when Q13 News interviewed O’Toole, we didn’t know about Levine's lawsuit but O’Toole says when officers are forced to use blast balls they follow strict guidelines.

“Blast balls present risks, we just need to find alternatives if we are not going to use blast balls,” O’Toole said.

“I want to figure this out before somebody dies,” Levine said.

Levine says he understands that officers have to use force in certain situations but in his case it went too far.

Levine says he does not plan to report on any more May Day protests.

Q13 News reached out to the city attorney’s office on the suit, and they sent a reply that reads, in part: "City is aware of the lawsuit but haven't been served yet so they cannot comment."