Protester Claims San Francisco Firefighters Injected Her With Sedative

A woman who claims she was injected with a sedative following her protest at an NBA playoff game in June, has filed suit against the San Francisco Fire Department and the San Francisco Police Department. Kareim McKnight filed suit yesterday in US District Court for the Northern District of California alleging a violation of her due process rights, excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment, assault, and battery.

The incident occurred during a playoff game between the Boston Celtics and the Golden State Warriors. Quoting from the complaint:

  • On June 13, 2022, Ms. Kareim McKnight along with her friend Amanda Piasecki went to the Warriors playoff game against the Boston Celtics at the Chase Center in San Francisco, California.
  • During the first quarter of the game, Ms. McKnight and Ms. Piasecki peacefully engaged in an act of civil disobedience to protest the United States Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn the landmark case, Roe v. Wade. Ms. McKnight and her friend proceeded to the floor, near floor seats, and displayed their banners which stated, “Overturn Roe? Hell No!”
  • As the women reached the main floor, they were met by Allied Universal Security guards who forcibly dragged Ms. McKnight and her friend out of the arena into the stadium garage.
  • Outside the arena, Ms. McKnight was aggressively pulled from behind and forced on the ground.
  • While lying prone, a security guard placed his knee in her back.
  • During this time, Ms. McKnight continued to state that she was engaging in an act of civil disobedience.
  • However, Ms. McKnight, who did not show any signs of resistance or agitation, was handcuffed.
  • As Ms. McKnight lay handcuffed, she continued to verbally chant, “Overturn Roe? Hell No!”
  •  At this time, a San Francisco police officer threatened Ms. McKnight that she would be injected with a sedative if she did not comply.
  • Ms. McKnight strongly refused to be injected with a sedative.
  • Despite of her protest and without her consent, a San Francisco Fire Department personnel injected Ms. McKnight with a sedative/hypnotic agent against her will while she lay strapped to a gurney.
  • Under no circumstances, did Ms. McKnight become physical or present any signs of threatening behavior.
  • Therefore, the San Francisco Fire Department personnel were without just cause in injecting Ms. McKnight.
  • Thereafter, Ms. McKnight was then taken to Kaiser Hospital where she was released after a short period of time.

The complaint does not identify the sedative allegedly administered. It would appear there is a minor discrepancy between the complaint and the issuance Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The complaint contends the June 13, 2022 protest was over the “recent decision” to overturn Roe v. Wade. However, Dobbs was not decided until June 24, 2022. Perhaps what the complaint is referring to is that in advance of the June 24, 2022 decision, a draft opinion was leaked to the public. That controversial release sparked protests in various cities.

Here is a copy of the complaint.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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