CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department released hours of body worn camera footage taken on the June 2, where protesters said they were trapped intentionally by police without an exit route.
An independent state bureau review of the incident concluded that protesters did have an exit route during the incident and CMPD policy wasn’t violated. The policy was changed shortly after though.
In the newly-released footage, one officer explained what they plan to do to another and said “we’re going to stay here and watch the show.”
“Wave goodbye, they’re all about to get gassed,” an officer said in part of the video.
This surveillance video shows the riot squad hiding behind a building on the left, then jumping out and deploying chemical agents when protesters get by.
“Rory’s got a platoon on Tyron, out of sight, Dan’s platoon is on college, out of sight. We’re going to push their a** straight up 4th. As soon as we get them on 4th we got a bottle neck now. Rory’s squad is going to step out and hammer their a**. And when they start running down, Dan’s platoon is going to hammer their a**,” the officer said.
As soon as the video was released, city council members weighed in on the matter. City council members reviewed the footage before it was released to the public.
“I saw just hours and hours, over 100 hours, of our officers acting professional holding themselves to a different standard and different level than anyone else in our community, while doing a hard job,” said councilman Tariq Bokhari.
After video of the June 2 incident went viral, Bokhari wrote a letter and posted it on twitter to police officers with CMPD thanking them for their hard work.
He says this video doesn’t change his mind about anything. He still believes CMPD was within policy, like the SBI investigation concluded, and that officers were doing their jobs.
“Yeah, they had a plan. They weren’t walking around with tear gas and it accidentally fell out of their pockets. They had plan to try and disperse them which we knew all along. There’s no difference in what we know now and what we knew in the beginning in that basic understanding,” said Bokhari.
Other council members disagree with Bokhari. Braxton Winston posted this following message on twitter asking “if my colleagues will join me in abolishing this or nah?”
Other council members, like Malcolm Graham said he doesn’t believe police were intentional in their plans, but said the tactic didn’t work the way they thought.
“Obviously, things went wrong with how they executed the policy that led to people to being perceived as trapped,” he said.
Dimple Ajmera said she wasn’t going to defend CMPD’s actions and said that the department met existing policies. She did say though the department can always improve.
“However, we have miles to go when it comes to policing reform and the restoration of public trust of the police in all our communities,” Ajmera said.
Other community leaders weighed in as well, icluding North Carolina House District 92 representative, Chaz Beasley.
“To say that I was disappointed and frustrated would be an understatement,” he said.
The state bureau of investigation deemed that police tactics didn’t trap protesters and no policy was violated. Since this incident, CMPD has changed their policy to include multiple dispersal orders and clearer exit routes.
But house representative Chaz Beasley says more questions need to be answered.
“We need to know where this plan came from, who came up with it and why they thought it was a good idea, in those officers words to ’bottle neck a group of protesters and gas them,’” he asked.
Chief Jennings spoke to reporters yesterday and called the incident a mistake. He also went over policy changes the department already made because of this incident.
“We’re human, there’s always going to be mistakes made. I think what we need to judged by is how we get better after mistakes are made and how do we better serve our community,” Jennings said.
Several changes were made to dispersal orders and riot control. First, if CMPD issues dispersal orders and a crowd disperses in response, but later reassembles in another locations, officers must issue new dispersal orders for the second assembly. Officers cannot base actions off previous dispersal orders issued previously or in the previous location.
When dispersal orders are given to a crowd, Chief Jennings says officers must repeatedly and clearly announce exit routes for the crowd to disperse through. The policy also prevents officers from blocking those exit routes with riot control agents or physical barriers, including officers.