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Woman shot by rubber bullet in Fort Lauderdale tells Congress police need more accountability

LaToya Ratlieff, 34, testified to the House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – The woman shot in the face with a rubber bullet by a Fort Lauderdale police officer addressed a congressional subcommittee Monday over video conference.

LaToya Ratlieff, 34, was very blunt, saying that while she appreciates officers who uphold their oath and carry their badge with honor, “too often police unions make the rules, which allow bad cops to continue to abuse their power on the public, and too often the systems that were supposed to create accountability and justice end up failing. Sometimes even after someone was murdered.”

Ratlieff, of Delray Beach, was one of a few people who live-streamed with the House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. She spoke for about five minutes and discussed what happened to her May 31.

Before she spoke, video was played showing the intense moments when a Fort Lauderdale police officer shot Ratlieff in the face with a rubber bullet during one of the protest demonstrations.

She even likened the situation to what her great aunt, famed civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer, experienced in the 1960s, working to advance voting rights for Black Americans.

Ratlieff says that, to this day, she has little to no vision in her right eye. She said she has yet to receive an apology from the officer who shot her, the department, or the city.

But she did address them directly during her comments.

“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,” she said. “But, if you think you’re going to silence me with rubber bullets, or attempt to intimidate me through statements to press, you’ve thought wrong.”

Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Rick Maglione issued a statement Saturday saying that his department is investigating the May 31 incident has yet to receive a sworn and official statement from Ratlieff.

“Our Office of Internal Affairs investigators are tasked with completing a comprehensive and objective investigation into what happened to Ms. Ratlieff,” Maglione’s statement said. “Her sworn and official statement would be helpful as we seek only the truth. To date, Ms. Ratlieff has given numerous media interviews and made many public statements, but has yet to meet with us to give us a formal statement of facts as she sees them. 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.”


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