A Standing Rock activist who was shot in the eye socket by police officers is facing jail time after being charged with trespassing.
Warning: contains graphic images
Indigenous activist Marcus Mitchell was severely injured in January 2017 during a Dakota Access Pipeline protest. A bean bag pellet was shot straight into his eye socket by police, shattering the orbital wall of his eye and cheek bone.
The severe injury left Mitchell with permanent loss of vision in his left eye and partial loss of hearing in his left ear. He can also no longer taste in parts of his mouth and has neck damage.
The policeman who shot him has not faced any repercussions from his actions, but the Navajo native is facing charges of criminal trespass, obstruction of government function.
The charges could mean he will be sentenced to two years in prison as well as a US$6000 (NZ$9313) fine.
Mitchell was a mechanical engineer student at Northern Arizona University but decided after seeing protests online that he would drop out and join the Dakota Pipe Line protestors.
He then hitchhiked to North Dakota and took up roles as a medic and a fire-tender at the Oceti Sakowin camp.
On the night that he was shot and 21 other people were arrested, The Guardian reported that he was sedated by a paramedic and woke in the middle of the surgery where the pellet was being removed.
Although he was heavily medicated the police still interrogated him.
He told The Guardian the trauma was worth it for the benefit of future generations.
"I don't want my grandchildren to live in a world that's barren and dead. I want them to live in a world that's fertile and full of water. I don't want to tell my grandchildren that I did nothing."
The Standing Rock protests begun in 2016 when oil Company Energy Transfer Partners plans to run an oil pipeline in close proximity to native Indian reservations and rivers were approved.
- Opinion: Indigenous groups whose struggles rival Standing Rock
- The Dakota pipeline protests explained
- Standing Rock: Donald Trump resurrects Dakota pipeline projects
Protesters believed the pipeline could potentially damage natural resources such as the waters of the Missouri, Mississippi and Big Sioux.
In 2017, protestors were forced to leave the area as construction begun, under the Trump administration, and the pipeline was completed by April the same year.
The water protector and activist has since been volunteering for Black Mesa Water Coalition, a non-profit that combines the promotion of cultural Navajo traditions, public health and resource extraction.