2023 Explanatory Reporting, Small Newsroom finalist

The People vs. Rubber Bullets

About the Project

U.S. law enforcement has used kinetic impact projectiles for more than 50 years, promoting them as life-saving alternatives to deadly force. But the munitions also carry a legacy of traumatic brain injuries, blindings, PTSD, and even deaths.

Now after a recent, staggering surge in the use of less-lethal weapons, victims are making a powerful case against them.

THE PEOPLE VS. RUBBER BULLETS is a six-part story with an interactive timeline. The chapters feature people whose lives were permanently altered by less-lethal weapons, from shooting victims to police officers in Austin, Texas facing criminal charges for firing on protesters during Black Lives Matter protests.

Among those profiled are veteran Scott Olsen (shot in the head with a bean-bag round), activist Andre Miller (hit in the head with a tear-gas canister), and journalist Linda Tirado (shot in the eye during protests surrounding George Floyd’s murder).

The series includes hundreds of photos and dozens of videos that illustrate the impact kinetic-impact projectiles have made on the lives of victims, communities, and law enforcement.