Delray Beach woman shot by rubber bullet by Fort Lauderdale PD speaks to Congress
DELRAY BEACH, Fla. (WPEC) - A Delray Beach woman shot in the face by Fort Lauderdale police during a Black Lives Matter protest testified before Congress Monday.
LaToya Ratlieff, 34, described what her life has been like after her injuries during a video conference with members of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
She says she is waiting for a formal apology from the police department.
“I know they’re watching this morning, so I’d like to say this as clearly as I can. If you want to work together to make needed reforms, I’m ready to sit down and talk. If you think you’re going to silence me with rubber bullets or intend to intimidate me through statements to the press, you thought wrong. While I seem to be the person most significantly injured at the hands of the Fort Lauderdale police that day, I am, by no means, the only one,” said Ratlieff to Congress.
Recently released surveillance video shows what began as a peaceful protest for racial justice ended in chaos.
The footage shows officers firing tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd during the demonstration that occurred May 31.
In one of the clips, you see a man, dressed in white, throwing a tear gas canister at officers.
That’s when you see one of the officers firing towards the man, but instead striking Ratlieff in the head, leaving her with stitches and nearly blind.
“Officer Eliezer Ramos shot me, a peaceful demonstrator, an unarmed woman in the head with a rubber bullet. While merely exercising my first amendment right to speak out against police brutality. I became the type of victim I was there to support,” Ratlieff said Monday morning to Congress.
The briefing with Congress comes after Fort Lauderdale police chief Rick Maglione said Ratlieff has yet to meet them to give a formal statement.
On Saturday, chief Maglione said, "Ms. Ratlieff has given numerous media interviews and made many public statements, but has yet to meet us." He added, "our officers reached out to her numerous times after the incident and later extended the invitation through Ms. Ratlieff's attorneys. While we appreciate the media's interest in her story, we have an even stronger interest in her story for our investigation. We are committed to doing what is right."
A spokesman for Ratlieff responded to the chief's statement immediately after.
"LaToya's lawyers have been in touch with the Fort Lauderdale City Attorney. We await the release of all body camera footage from an incident that took place a month ago. Less than 48 hours ago, the City Attorney sent us a letter regarding LaToya's participation in the internal affairs investigation. We invite the mayor and chief to meet with LaToya to discuss needed reforms and demonstrate their seriousness about preventing another tragic event like this from occurring. We also await their long overdue apology for shooting her in the head," said Evan Ross, Ralieff's spokesperson.
Ratlieff spoke to CBS12 News inside her Delray Beach home Monday evening.
She is hoping the Monday morning's testimony will lead to a much needed meeting with the Fort Lauderdale mayor and police chief to discuss reform to make sure this doesn't happen again.
"We have an opportunity to rectify or correct what happened. And be able to really get together and come with reforms and with change and show that this is not what the city is about," Ratlieff said.
In the meantime, her legal team is currently reviewing police body camera footage released today.
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