It turned into one of the most memorable photographs of the protests two weeks ago at downtown San Diego’s Trump rally.
A photographer, Jimi Giannatti, captured two men pepper spraying anti-Trump protesters in the Gaslamp Quarter and the photo was disseminated widely across social media.
On Friday, the 18-year-old protester targeted in the pepper-spraying incident spoke exclusively to NBC 7.
He doesn’t know the identities of the men who sprayed him, nor has he yet filed a police report. We also can’t share those men’s version of events, as we don’t know how to track them down.
But here’s how Daniel Romero said the situation went down: He had joined protesters outside the convention center on May 27, when he engaged in a confrontation with Trump supporters.
“I tried to take this man’s (Trump) sign to protect myself from getting sprayed by this man,” Romero said.
It’s possible, Romero said, that the two men interpreted the sign grabbing as aggression. That’s when they sprayed him in the eyes.
“It started burning – burning really, really bad. I couldn’t open my eyes for probably 40 minutes,” he said.
Videos surfaced on YouTube showing Romero shirtless, struggling with the pain and loss of vision.
He never filed a police report because he thinks nothing would happen as a result. On Friday, he said he was considering doing so at this late date.
“Why haven’t I filed a police report? Because … I don’t think anyone will help me find these people,” he said.
Deploying a chemical agent is allowed in California as long as it’s less than 2.5 ounces and done in self-defense. If not, it can lead to a felony charge and a punishment of up to 3 years’ prison.
It wasn’t clear to San Diego police, after they looked at the photo, whether it was aggression or self-defense.
The aggression hardly represents the greater group of Trump supporters. Romero said several Trump supporters helped him after he was pepper sprayed.