Fort Lauderdale mayor discusses police reform with protestor that was struck by rubber bullet

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The protestor who took a rubber bullet to the face is now facing leaders that are in charge of making the changes that she and so many others have been demanding. 

The victim in all of this, Latoya Ratlieff, says the past two and a half months have been tough.

She’s spent that time reflecting and recovering, but also met with Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis to discuss police reforms, and to make sure what happened to her doesn’t happen to anyone else.

"Beyond just healing physically, mentally, even now it's still trying to figure out why that happened," said Ratlieff. 

She was at a protest in Fort Lauderdale on May 31 and while walking to her car, she was struck by a rubber bullet, allegedly fired by a Fort Lauderdale police officer.

It narrowly missed her right eye.

“As the wound itself, its healed pretty well,” she said. “There’s still some lingering vision issues.”

She met with Mayor Dean Trantalis for the first time Monday to discuss the incident, and to begin a conversation about reforming the Fort Lauderdale Police Department.

"We were able to speak about the reforms and truly understand what the city is doing on their end to help ensure this is an isolated incident," she said. 

Ratlieff would like to see more diversity within the department and more involvement from the Civilian Investigative Panel.

Trantalis said many changes have already been made.

“We asked our police chief to step down, we’ve already directed our citizens police review board to begin thinking of changes made at the community level to try and bring in more community input and give them more authority and power to investigate investigations in regard to alleged police misconduct,” he said. 

Trantalis says what happened to Ratlieff was unfortunate and that an investigation is underway.

"I think what the police were doing was responding to things that would be thrown at them," he said. "Whether that is appropriate protocol, whether they should have attempted to de-escalate the situation, are things we are looking at now.

"The goal here, and I applaud her on this effort, is see what we can do to change policies, change attitudes in our community."

Ratlieff says Monday’s meeting was a step in the right direction. She said she’ll be meeting with Trantalis in the near future to continue this discussion. She also plans to speak with internal affairs investigators and provide a formal statement.

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