APTN National News
The family of a water protector in Standing Rock, N.D. say she may have her arm amputated after being struck with a pconcussion grenade during the recent clash with local and state police.
According to a statement released by Sophia Wilanksy’s family, the 21 year old believes a grenade was thrown by police hitting her left arm and exploding while she was bringing water to demonstrators caught in the confrontation at about 4:30 a.m. Monday.
Pieces of the grenade were removed from her arm during surgery according to her family.
The statement was also signed by 16 medical officials, including doctors, nurses and paramedics.
The Morton County Sheriff’s Department has refuted the claim saying Wilanksy was injured by a propane explosion. They’ve also reportedly said its officers were not armed with concussion grenades.
See related story here: Backwater Bridge
However, eye witnesses claim to have seen police throw the grenades at the demonstrators according to the statement.
Wilanksy is in stable condition after being airlifted to a hospital Minneapolis, Minn.
Her father and lawyer, Wayne Wilanksy, said the grenade hit his daughter’s left forearm.
“Her radius was shattered and a large piece of it is missing. Her medial nerve is missing a large section as well. All of the muscle and soft tissue between her elbow and wrist were blown away,” said Wayne
Wilanksy. “The police did not do this by accident – it was an intentional act of throwing it directly at her.”
He said medical staff are working to rebuild the arm and she will need multiple surgeries in the future in the hopes of regaining use of the arm.
“She will be, every day for the foreseeable future, fearful of losing her arm and hand,” he said. “I am left without the right words to describe the anguish of watching her look at her now alien arm and hand.”
Wilansky was injured during Sunday’s clash between water protectors and police.
The hours-long battle saw police repeatedly use water cannons and tear gas, along with targeted pot shots with rubber bullets, against the demonstrators known as water protectors, who defended themselves with makeshift shields and tarps.
See a timeline on the Dakota Access pipeline: Standing Rock
Police also reportedly used flash grenades and pepper spray.
With temperatures hovering at about -3C, the water fired by police quickly froze, caking clothing and blankets worn by the demonstrators with ice. Icicles clinging to the edges of the razor blades on the concertina wire gleamed in the flood lights set up by authorities along a barricaded frontline established just over the Backwater Bridge on Hwy 1806 following intense clashes the month before.