KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two KCPD officers hurt during this weekend’s protests are now recovering at home. They were hospitalized with head and liver injuries after being hit with flying objects.
But at least one protester says police action put him in the hospital, too.
Demonstrations on Saturday and Sunday in Kansas City sent a strong message to police and community leaders.
Humberto Gonzalez said it was a moment in history he couldn’t miss. He’s watched communities of color being deeply impacted by three waves of trauma, starting with high rates of illness, death and job losses in the coronavirus pandemic, then George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody.
“To be a good civilian, to be an American citizen, is to question your government and question your leadership and continually question for change,” Gonzalez said.
He and friends left the Country Club Plaza protest around dinner time Saturday. Berto came back later and said he was standing with a group of silent protesters about 10 feet from a huge line of police.
“I don’t know what set it off but just saw tear gas being shot out behind me and somebody being thrown off to the side near the lawn and a bunch of protesters retreated, took off running behind me,” Gonzalez said.
His right leg took a direct hit by a tear gas canister.
“I tried to stand and immediately just crumbled,” Gonzalez said.
A group of total strangers rushed to help. One person even tore off a t-shirt, tying tourniquets on Gonzalez’s leg. Fellow protesters carried him up the hill to St. Luke’s Hospital. As a former Marine, he called a friend for a ride to the VA Hospital.
“Every bump could be felt. My leg, you could feel tendons and muscles rubbing against bone. It was bleeding profusely,” Gonzalez said.
VA doctors helped bandage him up and sent him to KU Hospital, where he had surgery Monday. A metal rod and screws now hold his leg together.
“Today was the first time I tried to walk around, and it is going to be tougher than I thought,” Gonzalez said.
He’s humbled by an outpouring of support from those who have checked in and donated to help pay medical bills.
As he heals, he hopes police and the public won’t lose sight of protesters’ pleas.
“We’re all looters and rioter and criminals to be? Because we’re not obviously. There are obviously some good folks who had good intentions, and one is helping your fellow human being,” Gonzalez said.
He’s hoping to be released from the hospital Tuesday. Gonzalez will need ongoing therapy, and doctors said it could be months before his leg fully heals.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Since our story aired, FOX4 learned the video originally credited to Eddie Gartland was actually shot and provided courtesy of Casey Tubman.