July 5, 2011 at 3:29 PM CDT - Updated June 24 at 2:54 PM
CARUTHERSVILLE, MO (KFVS) -
Caruthersville Police Officer Evan Burns was injured in a firework explosion Monday night.
Some people in Caruthersville say police went too far in patrolling that night, but officers say they did what they needed to keep people safe.
Days after the incident Burns still has to wear sunglasses because his eyes are sensitive to the light, but doctors tell him there's no permanent damage.
He describes the injuries like a welder's burn, or someone spraying mace in your face.
He also describes the night as chaos.
"Before the first officer opened his door to get out, we started getting bombarded with these mortar round fireworks," Burns said.
He says he and other officers were trying to calm groups of people throwing fireworks at each other, officers, and people and cars going by. Burns says he noticed some people with fireworks in a backpack, and that's where events took another turn.
"They take off running, and I took off running after them, and turned down this street and it was just kind of out of nowhere, one came over my back, and blew up pretty much a foot, foot and a half right in front of my face," said Burns.
Burns says he couldn't see, could barely hear, and didn't know where he was.
"I remember I tried to walk in a direction I came from and ran into a tree," said Burns. "It was a scary situation when you know all of a sudden you realize one of your main senses is gone."
He called the dispatcher who sent officers to pick him up.
The other officers and Burns say they were just trying to protect the people in Caruthersville, and enforce the no purchasing or using fireworks policy.
"When you've got people that are getting these things blown up under their cars that's not just something you can walk away from you have to try and do something," said Burns.
But now police wonder if they should have done more.
"We consider these mortar rounds deadly force, and if we were able to pick anyone out of the crowd that was throwing them we would have responded with deadly force," said Caruthersville City Marshall Chris Riggs.
"The only proper response to deadly force use, is deadly force itself," said Burns.
But looking back, it isn't deadly force that Burns would have changed about his actions.
"If I had to do it again I wouldn't have ran after the kids or adults that threw the fireworks," said Burns.