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Abortions rights activist alleges forced sedation after Chase Center protest

Abortions rights activist alleges forced sedation during Chase Center protest
Abortions rights activist alleges forced sedation during Chase Center protest 02:45

SAN FRANCISCO -- A Roe v. Wade protester claims she was injected with an unknown sedative without consent by members of the San Francisco fire and police departments during a Chase Center protest in June.

Civil rights attorney John Burris announced a federal lawsuit Wednesday on behalf of Oakland activist Kareim McKnight. 

On June 13, McKnight and friend Amanda Piasecki went to Game 5 of the Golden State Warriors NBA Championship series against the Boston Celtics at Chase Center in San Francisco. 

Oakland activist Kareim McKnight
Oakland activist Kareim McKnight, who has filed a lawsuit against the SFFD and SFPD.  CBS

The civil rights lawsuit filed against the city, its police and fire departments in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California states that McKnight and Piasecki paid for their tickets and brought a banner that read, "Overturn Roe? Hell No," which they held up during the first quarter.

The pair called it an act of civil disobedience. It was when they were being removed by Chase Center security that McKnight said things took a turn. 

"I was dragged out, I was choked and I was hogtied and then a sergeant from the SFPD came up to me and threatened to have me sedated," she explained during a news conference Wednesday morning. 

McKnight claims threats then turned to reality. 

"Then the SFFD came, they strapped me to a gurney and they wheeled me to their van, the emergency vehicle and while I was on the ground, handcuffed in front of the emergency vehicle one of the firefighters came with a needle towards me. And I couldn't believe what I was seeing and I flinched and I said, 'No!'" she continued. 

"Giving an injection to a protester against her will is shocking and illegal," said Burris, McKnight's attorney. "There was no evidence that Ms. McKnight was a danger to herself or anyone else. She was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and she was protesting and making herself heard. That in and of itself cannot justify injecting a foreign substance into a person without proof of a medical or safety need, which was not the case for Ms. McKnight."

In Burris' long law career, he said he has never encountered a protester being sedated while being of sound mind, non-violent and practicing civil disobedience.

McKnight says she was not asked about pre-existing medical conditions or allergies before she was drugged, which pushes Burris to believe the sedative was mean-spirited, dangerous and meant to silence her. He hopes that this case will force the police to develop a strict policy when it comes to administering sedatives.

McKnight showed KPIX 5 what looked to be a discharge note from Kaiser's emergency department confirming the injection of five milligrams of sedative Versed. 

While of this was allegedly happening, Piasecki  was separated from McKnight. 

"I was worried for Kareim's life. I saw what was happening to them. I saw the radicalized nature of what was going on here and I feared for their life and unfortunately, I was right," Piasecki remembered. 

The pair have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against SFPD and SF Fire over the incident. "She did not give any permission for that occur. More importantly, there were no questions asked of her as to what her mental or physical condition was - was she in fact allergic to it and what is it that they were going to give her," said their attorney, Oakland based civil rights attorney John Burris. 

KPIX 5 reached out to both SFPD and SFFD for comment on these allegeations, but we're told the agencies could not comment on pending litigation and referred to the San Francisco City Attorney's office. 

In a statement, a spokesperson for that office, Jen Kwart said, ""We have yet to be served with the lawsuit. We will review it once we are served and respond appropriately."

A member of the San Francisco Police Commission told KPIX 5 that the decision to use sedatives is typically left to firefighters.  

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